Guilty plea over apprentice’s electric shock – Darren Scott Hardy

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Electrical contractor / worker

An electrical line worker has been fined $10,500 for safety failures that left an apprentice unconscious and burnt from an electric shock in the Wheatbelt.

At Narrogin Magistrates Court on 23 January 2024, Darren Scott Hardy pleaded guilty to breaching WA’s electricity network safety laws following prosecution by Building and Energy.

The court heard Mr Hardy was employed by Western Power in August 2022 when he and a second-year apprentice line worker travelled to Gorge Rock – around 250km east of Perth – to repair a fire-damaged network power pole.

Prior to starting work, Mr Hardy completed safety paperwork including certification that protective earths were fitted to the power poles. The earths protect line workers against contact with live electricity if the installation becomes unexpectedly energised.

According to information presented in court, the apprentice climbed a ladder and reported he had received an electric shock while removing wires from the damaged pole. He adjusted the ladder and returned to work, but sustained another electric shock that left him unconscious with burns on his hands and knees.

Mr Hardy drove the apprentice to Kondinin Hospital. The apprentice was airlifted to Royal Perth Hospital and later required several skin grafts.

A Western Power investigation found Mr Hardy did not follow mandatory work practices outlined in the network operator’s safety rules. Despite Mr Hardy’s certification, earths had not been fitted to the power poles. The apprentice was not wearing adequate protective clothing and a required test was not carried out to ensure the site was de-energised.

Mr Hardy contravened the Electricity (Network Safety) Regulations 2015 by failing to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that a prescribed activity carried on a network was carried out safely.

In addition to the $10,500 fine, Mr Hardy was ordered to pay $439.24 in costs.

Magistrate Erin O'Donnell acknowledged Mr Hardy’s guilty plea, remorse and lack of other workplace incidents, noting he was no longer working at Western Power. Her Honour also highlighted the need for general deterrence because “shortcuts cannot be taken when it comes to avoiding electric shock” due to the serious outcomes.

WA’s Director of Energy Safety, Saj Abdoolakhan, said the apprentice was incredibly fortunate to have avoided a more serious or even fatal injury.

“This case is a clear example of why mandatory safety requirements are in place and must be followed every time,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.

“There is no place for complacency when the stakes are so high. It is unacceptable to sign off documentation without completing the corresponding tasks, especially when supervising an apprentice. In this case, straightforward checks would have highlighted the danger before anyone was placed at risk.”


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Building and Energy
Media release
06 Feb 2024

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