WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the risk of installing cables in older domestic properties where the electrical supply has not been de-energised and/or the integrity of existing electrical cable is not known.
The alert was issued following an incident in which a licenced electrician working at an older domestic property was fatally electrocuted.
The electrician was under the house, preparing to install a cable to a power point within the house. The electrical supply was not de-energised at the time.
The electrician had dropped a stringline inside the wall cavity, and was attempting to hook the stringline so the cable could be pulled up to the switchboard. The hook used was metal and came into contact with an existing live electrical cable.
It is believed the existing cable’s insulation was compromised, likely due to its age, and the metal hook came into contact with the live conductor.
The safety alert recommended a number of ways to control these risks:
Develop a safe work method statement (SWMS) for the electrical work.
Electrical installation work is high-risk construction work (HRCW) when it is conducted on or near energised electrical installations or services.
An employer or self-employed person must prepare an SWMS for high-risk construction work (HRCW) before the work commences. The work must be performed in accordance with the SWMS.
If the HRCW changes or if there is an indication that control measures are not adequately controlling the risks, the SWMS must be reviewed and, if necessary, revised.
Note: The preparation of an SWMS meets the AS/NZS 4836 ‘Safe working on or near low-voltage electrical installations and equipment’ requirement to carry out an assessment of risks that have the potential to cause harm or damage at the worksite.