Safety Alert 108 - Electric Shock

A 3rd year apprentice was working with a team on a decommissioning job in the CBD. The 
apprentice started on site at 6.00am and the team completed a Job Safety and Environment 
Assessment (JSEA). During the morning safety meeting, it was indicated that live temporary 
lighting feeds were present in the work area.

The apprentice started their day in one area of the building and later moved to another area 
and task. The Supervising Electrical Worker (SEW) instructed the apprentice to remove the 
disconnected redundant cables from a cable tray. The SEW at this point also reminded the 
apprentice to use a volt stick and be mindful of the temporary lighting feed. 

The apprentice transported a platform ladder to the far end of the cable tray and cut the 
redundant cables on the tray in preparation for removal, ensuring to test with a volt stick 
before cutting each one. 

The apprentice has then moved to the switchboard side of the cable tray and commenced 
removing the decommissioned cables. The apprentice did not retest the cables at this 

While removing the cables from the cable tray, the apprentice did not notice that the live 
temporary feed was wrapped around the cables and the threaded rod of the cable 
tray. The apprentice has braced against the cable tray with their right hand and pulled hard 
on a cable with their left hand. 

The live feed was caught up with the cable being pulled and has been forced against 
the threaded rod, tearing the insulation. This caused the cable to short from the live 
feed to the cable tray, sending electricity through the cable tray to the apprentice’s 
right hand. 

The RCD on the circuit has tripped immediately, causing the lights to go out and reducing 
the severity of the shock received. This also alerted others on site to an incident occurring.
The apprentice has descended the ladder and required a moment to compile themselves. 
Instead of reporting the incident immediately to their supervisor, they made the report 30 
minutes later and subsequently delayed medical attention. An ECG was carried out and 
the apprentice was cleared of any effects.

The incident was not reported to EGT until the following week, after a long weekend. 
This delayed the opportunity to conduct a timely investigation and provide effective support 
to the apprentice. 

Root causes 

  1. Job/System Factors:
    Inadequate work practice - the live temporary feeds should have been clearly 
    marked and separated prior to the commencement of work on the isolated and 
    decommissioned cables. 

  2. Inadequate work procedures
    Improper motivation - EGT’s Test Before You Touch process was not carried out
    after changing work positions.

Contributing factors

  1. Inadequate work practice - rather than checking why the cable was stuck, the apprentice used brute force. 


  1. Test Before You Touch
    EGT apprentices are to ensure that the Test Before You Touch principles are followed 
    prior to commencement and re-commencement of all work activities. 

    All EGT apprentices have a Test Before You Touch Isolation Checklist (IITT) on the back of the Risk Assessment in their RAC booklet. IITT stands for Identify, Isolate, Tag and Test

  2. Never work live
    EGT apprentices must ensure that they DO NOT work in the vicinity of live parts. 

  3. Incidents must be reported immediately
    EGT apprentices must report all incidents to their supervisor AND EGT immediately (or 
    as soon as is practicably possible).


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

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