Aquatic centre receives $85,000 fine over electric shock 

A council-run aquatic centre in Queensland was recently fined $85,000 following an incident where a worker contacted overhead powerlines with a pool-cleaning tool.

In February 2022, a worker suffered an electric shock when the equipment he was using contacted 110kV, uninsulated powerlines while he was cleaning a pool at the aquatic centre.

The defendant pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the business or undertaking was conducted in a way that was electrically safe and exposing an individual to risk of death or serious injury. As a result of this failure, the worker suffered an electric shock and received minor electrical burns.

The Queensland Electrical Safety Office’s investigation found the defendant did not mandate exclusion zones around the powerlines when staff were using pool equipment, did not install a safety barrier between the powerlines and the pool area, did not install caution signs and did not reduce the risk by purchasing non-conductive pool cleaning tools. 

The defendant also failed to complete a risk assessment for pool cleaning and provide training for working near overhead powerlines.

“Working near powerlines can be fatal. Touching them or straying into the exclusion zone around them can result in a serious electric shock or electrocution,” said Donna Heelan, head of Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office.

“It is important to remember that you do not even need to come into contact with the powerlines – electricity can arc or jump across gaps.

“It’s critical to develop a safe system of work before you start, keep your workers and contractors informed about electrical safety and avoid going into exclusion zones to reduce the risk to you, your workers and the community.”

His Honour, presiding over the case in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court, ordered the defendant to pay a fine of $80,000, $5000 to the injured worker, and $1601.40 total in costs.