Electrical Discharge Alert
Safety Alert 62
Date: 29 July 2016
A 3rd year apprentice was tasked with installing exit signs throughout a building that was undergoing refurbishment. The exit fittings were supplied via flexible cords which were plugged into a plug socket.
On the day in question, he was unable to reach the plug socket from the exit signs' location and had to access it from a nearby downlight. To do this, he disconnected the cord from the fitting in order to feed it through the ceiling space to the required location. Before replacing the downlight, he plugged the cord into the plug socket as at this point he believed that the circuit was still de-energised but did not test to confirm this detail. He did not have time to complete the task, so he coiled up the cord and left it hanging below the ceiling before leaving the area.
This resulted in a situation where the unterminated bare ends of the cord would be live if power was turned on.
The following day, a painter carrying a pair of steps through the corridor came into contact with the flexible cord which had since been energised causing an electrical discharge.
- Always test before you touch to establish whether circuits are live or not
- Always leave cable ends safe - particularly where switchboard energisation is being conducted in the vicinity (J boxes, terminate cables into the fitting)
- Plan jobs so they can be left safe at all times
- Always tag/lock out the circuits you plan to work on
- If in doubt, ask a tradesman to verify your isolation and provide guidance on unfinished work
For further information regarding this Safety Alert, please contact the NECA OSH team on (08) 6241 6100.