Safety Alert 88 - Electric Shock


11 September 2020


The apprentice and the tradesman were problem solving (fault finding) and fixing various pole light circuits at North Metro TAFE Balga. The apprentice was tasked with changing globes on top of light poles throughout the campus from an A frame ladder.

The apprentice proceeded to climb the ladder and open the cover on top of the light pole to access the globe, while the tradesman conducted direct supervision from the ground level. As he held the baton holder to screw in a new globe, his right hand inadvertently touched a deteriorated cable (insulation breakdown) supplying the baton and received an electric shock.

Prior to the electric shock, the tradesman energised the over-ride on the time clock to identify which globes on the light pole circuit that required to be changed but did not isolate the circuit at the switchboard. The apprentice confirmed through the investigation process that he did not take part in the isolation process even though he had signed the applicable Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) for Isolation and Testing of Energy Sources for the job that stated that he was involved in the consultation, development and accepted the SWMS.

The apprentice also acknowledged that he failed to "TEST BEFORE YOU TOUCH" with his own voltstick and multi-meter.

Root Cause

  1. Job/System Factors:
    - Inadequate supervision – supervision requirements relative to the apprentices, while being met (Direct) did not include viewing of the specific work being undertaken by the apprentice.
    - Inadequate instruction – by the tradesman for not following/physically completing the correct isolation procedure.
  2. Personal Factors:
    - Lack of knowledge – on behalf of the apprentice.
    - Improper motivation – to complete his RAC (Risk Assessment Checklist), to ‘TEST BEFORE YOU TOUCH’ or to wear his protective gloves.

Contributing Factors

  • Inadequate or improper protective equipment – the apprentice was not wearing his protective gloves.
  • Failure to follow procedures – Failure to follow the isolation procedure as per the SWMS and ‘Safe Working Guidelines for Apprentices’ (Energy Safety booklet – page 18).


  • Tradesman:
    • Reaffirmation of the isolation procedure in accordance with the signed SWMS for the work activity/project.
    • Ensure the tradesman includes the apprentice to participate in the verification of de-energisation of the circuit or equipment, as per the 'Safe Working Guidelines for Apprentices' (Energy Safety booklet - page 18).
    • Reaffirmation of 'Apprentice Supervision Requirements'
  • EGT Apprentice:
    • The apprentice is to ensure that they participate and verify the de-energisation of the circuit or equipment by the following:
      • participate in the tag and lockout procedure by applying personal tags and locks; And,
      • 'TEST BEFORE YOU TOUCH' - personally verify, by electrical testing, that the circuit or equipment is de-energised (as per page 18 of the Energy Safety booklet).
    • The apprentice is to ensure that they wear their protective gloves.
    • The apprentice is to ensure that they complete their EGT Risk Assessment Checklist.


For further information regarding this Safety Alert, please contact EGT on (08) 6241 6100 or talk to your field officer.

Our sponsors