Charges laid over the death of apprentice electrician in Tennant Creek

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Thursday, 21 November, 2019 - 12:00
Incidents & prosecutions
Northern Territory

NT WorkSafe recently charged Dexter Barnes Electrical, a Tennant Creek based electrical services company, and its director Russell O’Donnell, over failures in the workplace which resulted in the death of fourth-year apprentice electrician Derick Suratin earlier this year.

Suratin and a third-year electrical apprentice were working unsupervised on the roof of the Tennant Creek Fire Station conducting electrical work on a live system, and Suratin was electrocuted when he made contact with a live wire and was unable to be revived.

This was an unfortunate example of the risks faced by inexperienced workers in a workplace, said acting executive director of NT WorkSafe Chris Wicks.

These charges are a reminder that employers must ensure that workers are appropriately trained and supervised, and should ensure that all sources of electricity supply to premises are isolated before commencing electrical work, he added.

The category 2 offence for failing to comply with Section 19 duties under the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (the Act) carries a maximum penalty of $300,000 for an officer and $1,500,000 for a body corporate.

NT WorkSafe alleges that Dexter Barnes Electrical failed to identify and mitigate risks to health and safety, failed to provide adequate instruction about the work to be undertaken, failed to ensure its workers were aware of and complied with its Safety Management System, and failed to properly train and supervise its workers.

NT WorkSafe further alleges that Russell O’Donnell failed in his duties as an officer by not exercising due diligence to ensure that Dexter Barnes Electrical complied with its duties under the Act.

The matter is listed for mention in the Tennant Creek Local Court on 11 December 2019.