The District Court has recently ordered an employer to pay over $36,000 and comply with an enforceable undertaking after an employee was electrocuted onsite.

The employee was carrying out his daily work tasks when an electrical plug was inserted without a safety sleeve. The safety sleeves are used as a safeguard to prevent the risk of live electricity.

The output became live and the employee was electrocuted. The employee was taken to a medical centre after experiencing numbness on one side of his body. He has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is unable to work.

The Court charged the employer with failing to meet their duty to ensure the health and safety of their workers so far as reasonably practicable. The employer was also charged with failing to inform WorkSafe of the incident straight away.

A WorkSafe investigation found that the employer failed to develop, monitor and implement an effective risk assessment procedure, failed to implement a safe system of work, and failed to ensure there was effective training, instruction and supervision of workers’ safety.

WorkSafe suggested that the employer should have conducted pre-start checks and a maintenance programme to ensure the worksite was safe.

The Court ordered an enforceable undertaking. If the employer complies with this undertaking they may avoid a further penalty.

The undertaking requires the employer to implement a health and safety and well-being programme for employees, install electrical safeguards, re-design machinery, and other safety measures.

The Court also ordered the employer to pay a fine of $8,000 for failing to inform WorkSafe of the issue until two weeks later, as well as over $6,000 in legal costs. The employer made contributions towards the victim’s recovery totalling over $63,000 before the Court hearing.

There are important health and safety obligations which must be observed by employers. If you are confused about these obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors