Safety Alert 99 - Electric shock - Stay Mentally Aware

The apprentice and team started the day at their worksite with a daily JSA. The team was carrying out decommissioning and removal works prior to a refit. When discussing the daily tasks, an essential services circuit was identified (a live circuit within the vicinity of work) and this circuit had been marked as such. The remaining circuits had been isolated at the beginning of the job and as the apprentice had only been at this worksite for a few days, they were not involved in the isolation process.

The apprentice was tasked with removing some conduit work. The apprentice traced the conduit that they were removing to a wall where it would need to be cut to be removed. The apprentice used a platform ladder to get to the conduit and tested the conduit with a volt stick which did not provide any indication of electricity within the conduit. The apprentice did not have the conduit cutters available, so they descended the ladder to borrow a set before returning to the platform ladder to complete the task.

There were two conduits within 100mm of each other where the apprentice was working. When the apprentice returned to their work area, they did not retest prior to cutting and they cut the wrong conduit. The conduit contained the essential services circuit that was discussed in the pre-start meeting and the uninsulated conduit cutters went deep enough to penetrate the cable, resulting in an electric shock to the apprentice’s hands. There was an RCD, but this did not stop the shock occurring.

The apprentice was taken for an ECG and is not affected by the incident. The apprentice had been struggling with some personal events that had resulted in a lack of sleep and some underlying stress. The apprentice had recently seen their Field Officer who had referred them to EGT’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP/Worklink) service and offered time off. The apprentice did not want to let their host employer down during such a busy time and decided against taking time off, but they were intending to use the EAP service.

On the day of the incident the apprentice was asked if they had used the EAP service and responded with ‘No, I have been meaning to but I haven’t had the time’.

It is important to take care of your mental health and be mentally present at work. If you’re not sleeping or worried/stressed about something personal, you can be your own hazard at work. EGT supports all staff and apprentices through the free EAP service and encourages apprentices and other staff to take time out from work where needed.


Root cause

  • The apprentice’s personal situation had contributed to them being less aware and less organised while at work.
  • Failure to retest after leaving the work area and returning.
  • Failure to do a RAC for the task at hand.

Contributing factors

  • Fitness for work – although the apprentice was trying to do the right thing, they should not have been at work until the stress and lack of sleep caused by their personal situation had been remedied.
  • Following procedure – the Test Before you Touch process requires any item which holds cable with the potential to be live should be tested and tested again if you have left your work area and returned for any reason.


  • EGT apprentices are to ensure the Test Before you Touch principles are followed prior to commencement and recommencement of all work activities.
  • EGT cannot force apprentices or staff to report or treat their mental health, but we encourage all apprentices and staff to let us know if they are experiencing difficulties so that we can assist where possible.

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

We encourage you to access free support via the EAP directly. The counselling is available through Worklink. You can call them directly to set up an appointment on 1800 468 001 and tell them you are part of the EGT EAP program.

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