07:55 pm, Friday 8 February, 2013
A construction and services company was fined $65,000 and was ordered to pay more than $8000 in costs over an incident wherein an assembled street light came too close to high-voltage power lines near a gasoline service station.
The company pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to provide a safe workplace and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court.
The company was contracted in 2009 to install two streetlights in Kewdale for Main Roads in Western Australia.
In their guilty plea, the company admitted that it failed to perform proper pre-job onsite inspection, obtain a vicinity authority permit from Western Power, contact the appropriate Western Power personnel, and to test the line before starting work or comply with safe working distances.
The crane operator was hoisting the assembled street light into place believing the power line was not in service. The street light swung close to live power lines.
The high-voltage electricity travelled through the ground over the vicinity of a 4500-litre gas storage cylinder igniting the surface scrub and debris around the cylinder. It also made contact with an underground water pipe, which resulted in flashing over at a fuel dispenser area of a gas station nearby.
Although there were no injuries reported, there was high risk potential for injury, electrocution or explosion. Police and FESA evacuated the area until the site was declared safe.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said the case serves as a reminder of the importance of having safe systems of work at all times.
“In this case, the court heard that there were some serious deficiencies in communication between those supervising the job and those actually performing the work.
“A series of missed checks and misunderstandings resulted in the workers not being aware that the power line they were working near was high-voltage and active and that they needed to maintain a three-metre clearance at all times.
“It was incredibly fortunate that no one was injured or killed as a result of this incident, and the level of the fine imposed reflects the seriousness with which the court viewed the incident.
“Working in the vicinity of power lines is extremely hazardous, and it is vital that every possible measure is taken to ensure the safety of the job, especially in ensuring that everyone on the site is fully briefed on the issues,” said Mr McCulloch.