An electric shock occurs when a person comes into contact with electricity, causing the electrical current to flow through their body.
The effects from an electric shock can range from tingling and mild discomfort through to burns, severe internal/external injuries (including heart damage), unconsciousness and fatality.
Electric shocks from taps, pipes or appliances at home are warning signs that something could be wrong with the electrical wiring or appliances.
Bad or degraded neutral connections or electrical faults are common causes of electric shocks. If a neutral connection is degraded, the electrical current may not be able to flow back to the electrical source and may find another path to travel, such as a water pipe, metal taps, gas fittings or any other conductor of electricity.
If you then touch the water pipe, metal tap, gas fitting or other conductor, you may receive an electrical shock, which can be potentially life threatening.
Warning signs to look out for:
electric shock from water pipes, taps, gas fittings or appliances;
unexplained brightening and dimming of lights; and
unusual performance from electrical appliances (i.e. whirring noise from an air-conditioning unit).
What should I do if I receive an electric shock?
report all electric shocks to your Network Operator immediately (contact numbers below);
avoid touching any metallic appliances, water taps or gas fittings until the Network Operator can determine the cause of the fault; and
seek medical attention. Regardless of how minor the electric shock is, you should seek medical attention as an electric shock can affect your body sometime after it occurred.
Regulations require that all electrical accidents that occur in Western Australia, irrespective of their seriousness, must be immediately reported to:
the employer (if relevant); and
the relevant network operator. If the person making the report cannot identify the network operator, the accident must be reported to the Director of Energy Safety at Building and Energy.
When the accident is reported to the employer, the employer is also required to report it immediately to the relevant network operator (or Building and Energy if the network operator cannot be identified).
Network Operator contact numbers:
Western Power 13 13 51
Horizon Power 13 23 51
Rio Tinto: 1800 992 777
BHP Billiton: 1300 632 483 – option 4
Indian Ocean Territories Power Service (IOTPS) and Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands: 9164 7111
Building and Energy (where the Network Operator is not known): 1800 678 198