Safety alert 02/2012 - Supervision of apprentices and detection of underground services

This publication is for: 
Employee / workerEmployer

In February, a plumbing apprentice was working in a trench to connect a building’s fire fighting system to the mains supply.  An 11,000 volt underground electrical main was uncovered in the trench, restricting the connection to the mains supply valve. The apprentice drilled into the 11,000 volt main via a hand held drill and a tech screw.

He sustained flash burns to his left arm and left leg.


Contributing factors

  • Lack of supervision
  • Unidentified services 

Action required 

  • Young inexperienced workers require:
    • Planned induction into the workforce;
    • Careful instruction and training; and
    • Direct supervision.
  • Consultation and planning of the proposed work must occur with all people involved with the work.
  • The location of underground services must be established, and an accurate diagrammatic representation (plan) of the services must be made available at the workplace before work commences. 

Further information

Information on new and young workers can be obtained from WorkSafe’s website

This Alert contains safety information following inquires made by WorkSafe about an incident or unsafe practice. The information contained in this Alert does not necessarily include the outcome of WorkSafe’s action with respect to an incident. WorkSafe does not warrant the information in this Alert is complete or up to date and does not accept any liability to any person for the information in this report or as to its use.

Last updated 16 May 2014

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