Electrical safety warning over deadly wood art device

WA’s energy safety regulator is warning of the potentially fatal dangers of DIY electrical devices after a WA man died while allegedly handling a homemade high-voltage appliance used for wood art.

Building and Energy is continuing to investigate the electrocution incident, which occurred in the Great Southern region in March.

The electrical device was set up for a technique known as Lichtenberg or fractal burning, which uses high-voltage electrical currents to burn patterns into wood.

A similar device is also believed to have caused the death of a South Australian man in 2018.

According to the American Association of Woodturners, 24 deaths in the United States have been associated with Lichtenberg or fractal burning in the past four years, prompting the organisation to ban the technique at its events and exclude articles about it from publications.

WA’s Director of Energy Safety Saj Abdoolakhan said the recent tragedy was a stark reminder of the often silent dangers associated with electricity.

“The construction or use of any homemade high-voltage device by an untrained or inexperienced person risks the safety of the user and others in the vicinity, with devastating consequences in a split second,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.

“The hazardous wood-burning technique associated with these tragedies often involves improper use of components, inadequate insulation or protective equipment and unskilled construction and handling of a potentially deadly high-voltage apparatus. It is simply not worth the risk.”

For more information on the safe use of electricity, see the Building and Energy website (dmirs.wa.gov.au).


Media contact: BEmedia@dmirs.wa.gov.au

Please note: The deceased man’s family has declined the opportunity to speak with media.

Building and Energy
Media release
23 Jun 2020

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