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Electricity related serious accidents and fatalities

Regulation 63(1) of the Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991 requires every member of the community, consumer or industry to report an electricity caused accident that has caused, or is likely to cause, danger to a person or property. Reports should be made to the relevant network operator or, where the network operator cannot be identified, to the Director of Energy Safety.

An electric shock is defined as an incident which does not require medical or first aid treatment or an incident where NO injuries are sustained, but precautionary medical treatment is sought.

A serious electrical accident is defined as an incident in which a person requires assessment and/or treatment at a medical facility, and includes fatalities.

Year 2010-11

The following electricity related serious accidents and fatalities were reported to EnergySafety during the year 2010-11:

Electric Shocks 1053
Serious Electrical Accidents 12
Fatalities (included in 'serious electrical accidents') 4

The fatalities in which electricity was found to be the cause were:

  • A 22 year old male received a fatal shock as he stepped out of a caravan and made simultaneous contact with the door frame of the caravan and the ground. A damaged power cord on a power board caused the wet floor of the caravan and all conductive surfaces of the caravan to become live.
  • An 18 year old female was walking home from a party and walked into a fallen public lighting switchwire. The conductor was live and the resulting injuries were fatal.
  • A 78 year old male received a fatal electric shock from a copper wire he had previously installed along the edge of his patio at the rear of his house to stop dogs playing and digging on his lawn. The bare copper wire was insulated from its supporting steel stakes and connected to a flexible cord and plugged into a 240 volt socket outlet. A dog contacted the live wire and was electrocuted. The victim received a fatal electric shock when he grabbed and fell onto the live wire across the lawn while investigating what happened to the dog.
  • A 46 year old male received a fatal shock while conducting repair work on a plaster ceiling. The victim came into contact with an exposed live conductor, a bare earthing conductor and an earthed copper water pipe. 

History of accidents and fatalities

Year

 Number of Electric Shocks Reported

Number of Serious Electrical Accidents

 Serious Accidents per 1 Million Population

Number of Fatalities (Included in Serious Electrical Accidents)

 2010-11 1053  12 
 2009-10 1060  13 
 2008-09 1089  21 
 2007-08 1005 24  10 

 2006-07

929

22

10

5

 2005-06

1317

31

15

3

 2004-05

1037

41

23

4

2003-04

1004

29

16

3

2002-03

1032

37

16

7

2001-02

NA

21

12

2

2000-01

NA

22

11

4

1999-00

NA

28

15

6

Fatalities

In 2009-10, there were two fatalities in which electricity was found to be the cause. Briefly:

  • A two year old boy received an electric shock when he came into contact with a damaged flexible extension cord.
  • A man was electrocuted while attempting to steal electrical components from a live low voltage switchborad at a demolition site at night. The man came into contact with a live 240 volts terminal in the switchboard and received a flow of electric current through his body.

In 2008-09, there were four fatalities in which electricity was found to be the cause. Briefly:

  • The deceased was unlicensed and performing work on a live wiring junction in a lighting circuit in the roof space of a dwelling. After removing insulation tape and a connector from the active conductor of the lighting circuit wiring joint, the deceased's right hand made contact with this conductor, which resulted in the deceased receiving a fatal electric shock. The deceased was also in contact with steel conductive roof frames in the roof space, which were also connected to the general mass of earth.
  • The deceased was standing on a metal ladder and resting against the steel frame of the patio while installing shade cloth when his thumb came into contact with live parts of the electric drill plug he was using and received a fatal electric shock. The shroud on the plug had not been fitted correctly.
  • A child dismantled a juice extractor and removed the 240 volt electric motor and then plugged the motor, which had exposed live parts into a socket outlet The child touched the live parts on the motor and received a fatal electric shock.
  • The deceased came into contact with live parts of a commercial dishwasher and in doing so, received a fatal electric shock.

In 2007-08, there was one fatality in which electricity was found to be the cause. Briefly: 

  • A ten year old girl climbed a steel pole to retrieve a football jumper and came in contact with live 240/415 volts conductor(s) and received an electric shock.

In 2006-07, there were five fatalities in which electricity was found to be the cause. Briefly:

  • A tree lopper received a fatal electric shock when carrying out vegetation control work from the bucket of an elevated work platform. His pole mounted chain saw contacted 22,000 volt powerlines.
  • An electrical contractor was electrocuted when he mistakenly identified a power circuit cable and isolated the wrong circuit when checking live cable junctions in a roof space.
  • A person was electrocuted when working on a 415 volt movable hydraulic restricting machine that was plugged into a 415 volt socket outlet. The active and earth conductors of the flexible supply cable were transposed at the plug-top connections and the metal frame of the machine became live.
  • A 14 year old person was electrocuted while dismantling a pedestal fan. He came into contact with exposed live terminals on the fan controller after he plugged the appliance supply cord in to the electricity supply.
  • A person was electrocuted by a home made device which was connected to his body. The electricity source applied to his body was derived from an electric arc welder with a measured AC open circuit voltage of 17.2 volts.

In 2005-06, there were three fatalities in which electricity was found to be the cause. Briefly: 

  • A linesman received a fatal electric shock when he came into contact with, or in the vicinity of, live high voltage aerial conductors.
  • A person received a fatal electric shock when he made contact with the exposed 1,000 volt terminals in a switchboard.
  • A person received a fatal electric shock when a piece of metal he was in contact with pierced a 3-phase extension cord, contacting a live conductor.

In 2004-05, there were four fatalities in which electricity was found to be the cause. Briefly:

  • An electrical worker was electrocuted when he accidentally picked up live fallen 415 volt aerial street supply cables from the street verge.
  • A person received a fatal electric shock from a portable generator when he mistakenly plugged a homemade two-core direct current battery charging lead into the 240 volt alternating current outlet instead of the 12 volt direct current outlet.
  • A person received a fatal electric shock from a steel rope touching a clothesline which had become live via metallic buildings due to an active to earth fault on a water cooler. There was also an open circuit on the earthing circuit.
  • A person was electrocuted when he made contact with a gas heater which was plugged into a socket outlet and had become live due to the fixed wiring earth conductor coming into contact with an active conductor at an unenclosed cable junction. There was also an open circuit on the earthing circuit.

In 2003-04, there were three fatalities in which electricity was found to be the cause. Briefly:

  • An electrician was electrocuted while attempting to reconnect sub mains cables to the bottom of a circuit breaker and made contact with LIVE terminals.
  • A refrigeration mechanic was electrocuted while replacing an evaporative air conditioner on a roof. He was using stainless steel multigrips which came into contact with LIVE conductors.
  • An electrician was electrocuted while attempting to rectify a fault in the damper controls of an air conditioner damper in a roof space. He made contact with LIVE terminals.

In 2002-03, there were seven fatalities in which electricity was found to be the cause. Briefly:

  • An electrician was electrocuted whilst attempting to repair a lighting circuit that was energised.
  • A woman and a child were electrocuted whilst using a high-pressure water cleaner. The water cleaner’s electrical cable was damaged and unsafe.
  • A worker was electrocuted whilst installing a metal street light pole under a 132 kV high voltage power line.
  • A person was electrocuted whilst carrying out electrical work in a roof space at a domestic residence.
  • Two children were electrocuted when they contacted an overhead electrical service cable termination at a house, whilst attempting to retrieve a toy Frisbee via the roof of the building.