Safety Alert 103 - Electric Shock


A first year apprentice and their tradesperson were working within the University of Western
Australia (UWA) campus installing fire controls system cabling. The team had signed into the
daily SWMS when they arrived in the morning and the apprentice had completed their RAC
prior to the task. The apprentice had identified the need for gloves but did not wear them.
The apprentice had been pulling cables inside the roof via the removeable ceiling tiles on an
A-frame ladder. The team had deemed that the works being carried out were not electrical
and the existing installations were not being disturbed, so the existing cables and lighting
remained operational.

The apprentice was working through a ceiling tile directly next to a light fitting. While
descending the ladder, the apprentice braced themselves by placing one hand on the
framework for the ceiling tiles. At this point, the apprentice’s other hand touched a toggle bolt
on the metal light fitting that they were working next to. The apprentice felt a shock
immediately when their hand touched the bolt.

The apprentice was under direct supervision, so their tradesperson was aware of the shock
immediately. The lighting circuit was isolated, and the apprentice was taken for an ECG
The apprentice had a clear ECG and incurred no other effects from the shock.

The incident was not able to be recreated during the investigation, but the light was reterminated as a safety precaution.

Root Cause

Job/System Factors:
• Inadequate work practice – Knowing that the light fitting was metal and not isolated,
the apprentice should have taken care to avoid contacting the fitting.
• Inadequate work practice – A platform ladder would have been a better choice,
removing the need to brace when descending near live parts.

Personal Factors:
Poor workmanship / product – The original installation of the light fitting contributed
to the fault condition that caused the incident.

Contributing Factors
• Inadequate or improper protective equipment – The apprentice was not wearing protective gloves.
• Inadequate or improper equipment – A platform ladder would have been more appropriate for the task.
• Test Before you Touch – The light fitting had not been identified as safe.
• Lack of knowledge – The apprentice was not aware of the hazard due to the nature of the task (considered non-electrical work).

• EGT apprentices are to ensure the “Test Before You Touch” principles are followed prior to commencement of all work activities.
• EGT apprentices must ensure that they DO NOT work in the vicinity of live parts.
• EGT apprentices must ensure they wear the correct PPE e.g. gloves.
• EGT apprentices must ensure all incidents are reported to EGT immediately.
• Be aware of your hand placement at all times with all tasks

For further information regarding this Safety Alert, please contact EGT on (08) 6241 6100 or speak with your Field Officer

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