Electrician faces hefty fines after unsupervised apprentice injured
Mr Cicchelli was a sole trader electrician hired to complete the electrical fit-out of a hardware store. Mr Cicchelli delegated the cabling work to his employees, two B-grade electricians and a third-year apprentice.
On 22 August 2017, the B-grade electricians left the hardware store to attend to other work, leaving the apprentice unsupervised. The apprentice was told specifically to wait for the electricians to return to the site, as they would show him how to complete the work. The apprentice was aware of his limited skills and lack of experience when it came to working on live switchboards but proceeded to work unsupervised, eventually suffering a flash burn injury.
Mr Cicchelli was found to have breached two duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic):
- failure to supervise his B-grade electricians to ensure they stayed with the inexperienced apprentice; and
- failure to ensure no work was performed on the live switch board without supervision.
Mr Cicchelli had also failed to take into account the likelihood of inattention, haste or foolish disregard to personal safety.
He pleaded guilty and was fined $12,000, reduced from $18,000.
In addition to putting in place physical steps to reduce workplace risks to safety, you also need to ensure you provide adequate supervision, particularly when high-risk work is being performed and there are inexperienced workers involved.
Please note: Case law is reported as correct and current at time of publishing. Be aware that cases in lower courts may be appealed and decisions subsequently overturned.
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