Court Summary - at a glance
- Ensuring that employees properly understood how to measure the MAD;
- Ceasing work to re-evaluate the activity in order to prevent employees breaching the MAD as required by reg 17 of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations;
- Carrying out testing of the serviced equipment with the connecting bar in place, under a test permit;
- Reiterating in the written workplace documents that if there was any reason why the conditions in the work procedure could not be maintained, the work should stop; and
- Ensuring that employees planned their moves and took extreme care when moving from one position to another, given their proximity to live electrical parts.
The circuit breaker was to be isolated from the network so it was in a de-energised area. The circuit breaker was the only piece of equipment that was to be worked on under the Access Permit.
The circuit breaker was connected to an air brake switch by three busbars. One side of the switch had been isolated but the other remained live and was at high voltage.
The employees had trouble disconnecting the busbars from the circuit breaker using the methodology that had been approved by the defendant. They considered alternative methods, and decided to remove the busbars at the switch end. That end was not inside the de-energised safe zone. The employees were not authorised to work outside the circuit breaker. The employees also wrongly estimated that the bolts connecting the busbars to the switch were outside the minimum approach distance (MAD)
The victim placed a ladder against the switch and attempted to remove one of the busbars. In doing so he breached the MAD. Very soon after that the employees heard a loud roar and observed a large blue arc flash, and then observed the victim on the ground.
The victim sustained a 33kV electric shock and serious burns to his left hand, arm, chest, back and neck, and superficial burns to his face. He also suffered internal damage that led to an acute kidney injury that required dialysis, and abdominal issues, including a distended abdomen and an ischaemic colon, which required surgery.