A worker in Queensland recently received an electric shock while he was preparing to form up a concrete slab next to an existing structure.
Initial enquiries indicate he was using a sledgehammer to drive a star picket into the ground to support the wooden framework.
As he hammered the star picket into the ground it contacted an energised electric cable which gave him an electric shock.
While investigations are continuing, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland said in an incident alert that contact with underground electric lines can have deadly consequences.
Before carrying out ground-disturbing work, the alert said to consider whether underground essential services (including electric lines) could be present in the area. If they could, you should identify the risks and implement effective control measures associated with the work.
This includes complying with any requirements under relevant work health and safety and electrical safety legislation in relation to the work.
The best way of eliminating these hazards is to prevent people, plant, equipment and materials from coming close enough to contact electric lines.
Even if a line is de-energised, direct contact with it can still be dangerous, if nearby energised high voltage services are inducing a voltage onto it.
The alert said to develop a safe system of work for ground-disturbing work. This could include, but is not limited to the following examples:
Any remaining risk of live contact must also be minimised with suitable personal protective equipment, according to the alert, which said adopting and implementing higher-order controls, before considering administrative or PPE controls, will significantly reduce the likelihood of a similar incident occurring.