Safety Alert 101 - Electric Shock


A third year apprentice and their tradesperson were carrying out works at a commercial premise where they were changing over 413 lighting sockets with surface mount double GPOs. The 413 lighting sockets were already located in the ceiling space.

The apprentice and tradesperson arrived on site at 5am and completed the appropriate pre-start and task-specific risk assessment. They did not complete an isolation as no electrical fit-off works were being undertaken until the preparation works had been completed. Only the tradesperson was carrying out the preparation works as the cables were not isolated.

As part of the preparation works, the tradesperson lowered the identified 413 lighting sockets and cables from the roof space, ready for the changeover work. The apprentice had been asked to stand beside the ladder on which the tradesperson was standing and wait for further instruction.

The apprentice removed the backing plate of the 413 lighting socket without being instructed to, opening the enclosure and exposing the live wiring and terminals. The apprentice had not been instructed to undertake this task as an isolation process had not been carried out. The apprentice also did not have a volt stick with them and as a result did not check if the cables were live prior to working on the socket.

Lack of isolation and failure to follow the Identify, Isolate, Tag, Test (IITT) process meant that the apprentice exposed themselves to live parts and this resulted in an electric shock to their hands.

The electric shock was received at 6am but not reported to EGT until 3.30pm that day, resulting in a delay in receiving an ECG. The apprentice underwent an ECG soon after this, and was cleared of any adverse effects.

Root cause

  • Job System Factors

    Failure to follow instruction - the apprentice undertook a task which they were not instructed to do.
  • Personal Factors

    Improper motivation – the apprentice failed to follow the ‘Test Before You Touch’ procedure.

Contributing Factors

  1. Test Before You Touch – the apprentice did not have a volt stick with them and as a result did not test prior to touching.
  2. Failure to follow procedures – failure to follow the isolation procedure as per EGT’s policies and the ‘Safe Working Guidelines for Apprentices’ (page 18).
  3. Inadequate leadership / supervision – failure to de-energise all circuits before working in the vicinity.


  • EGT apprentices must ensure that they DO NOT work in the vicinity of live parts.
  • EGT apprentices are to ensure that the ‘Test Before You Touch’ principles are followed prior to commencement and recommencement of all work activities.
  • EGT apprentices should ensure circuits have been isolated by the tradesperson and participate in the process (i.e. follow the steps of isolation in the RAC and place your own danger tag at the isolation point).
  • EGT apprentices must have a volt stick readily available at all times.
  • EGT apprentices should be appropriately supervised at all times.
  • EGT apprentices must not undertake unauthorised work (i.e. follow instructions from your supervisor only).
  • EGT apprentices must ensure all incidents are reported to EGT immediately.

Follow the ABC: Assume nothing, Believe no one, Check everything


For further information regarding this Safety Alert, please contact EGT on (08) 6241 6100.

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