WA’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety recently issued a safety alert following an incident in which a bar attendant at a hotel received an electric shock while attempting to turn off a glass washer that was overflowing.
The glasswasher was plugged into a general power outlet that was connected to a circuit breaker from the distribution board.
The alert said there were a number of contributing factors to the incident:
The glasswasher had recently been reported as being faulty, but it was not isolated or tagged ‘Out of Service’. Information that the glasswasher was faulty was not relayed to the worker upon commencement of their shift.
The general power outlet that the glasswasher was plugged into was not protected against earth leakage by either a residual current device (RCD) or an earth leakage circuit breaker (ELCB) on the switchboard. A miniature circuit breaker (MCB) is not designed to trip in circumstances such as these.
There was excess water in and around the push buttons on the glass washer and on the floor where the worker was standing, which resulted in an electrical path to the ground causing the electric shock when the buttons were pressed.
There are also a number of important ways to manage hazards and risks:
Ensure faulty electrical equipment is isolated and tagged ‘out of service’. Faulty electrical equipment should be inspected by a competent person and deemed safe to use before being returned to service.
Ensure all general-purpose outlets are protected by an RCD. Each RCD must be kept in a safe working condition and tested on a regular basis to ensure its continued effective operation.
Ensure that staff are made aware when equipment is faulty and they are not to use it until they have been advised that it has been repaired or replaced.
Ensure staff are properly trained to operate electrical appliances in accordance with the manufacturer’s operating instructions and are aware of the dangers of using electricity around water. A copy of the manufacturer’s operating instructions should be available for all plant on site.