Companies charged over worker’s serious injuries

Two companies were both fined under New Zealand laws for failing to adequately assess and control the risks of working near live electricity after a trainee worker suffered serious burns three years ago.

An electrical utility company engaged an electricity distribution company to conduct maintenance work on roadside transformers in the Wellington region. Two men were working in Karori on 27 May 2014 when a bracket fell onto live contacts causing an electrical short, resulting in a flashover. The worker sustained serious burns requiring specialist treatment from the burns unit.

Investigation revealed that the company failed to have clear instructions to prompt workers to stop if they encountered increased risks or conditions that were different to what was in the work plan; not shutting off the power before any maintenance work was undertaken at this site; and not documenting their hazard assessments in one place, such as the work plan that was available to the workers.

“Incidents such as this should not happen. Working near live components is a well-known hazard in the industry, and risks should be appropriately managed to protect the workers,” said WorkSafe New Zealand’s Chief Inspector, Keith Stewart.

The electrical utility company was fined $ 26,000, and the electricity distribution company was fined $ 30,000.

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