$30,000 in fines for dangerous electrical error

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
  • Potential risk to residents or tradespeople accessing the switchboard
  • $25,000 fine for electrical contractor and $5,000 fine for electrical worker
  • Metal meter enclosure not bonded to earth and socket outlet wired incorrectly
  • An electrical contractor and electrician have been fined $25,000 and $5,000 respectively after wiring errors left parts of a Kalamunda property unprotected against electrical hazards for five months.

    The cases against East Perth-based Wesco Electrics (1966) Pty Ltd (EC1419) and Paul Michael Thomas (EW145745), of Madeley, were heard separately at Midland Magistrates Court following prosecutions by Building and Energy under the Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991.

    Information presented to the court showed that Wesco Electrics was contracted in March 2020 to supply and install a replacement consumer power pole at the property.

    Mr Thomas – an electrical worker employed by Wesco Electrics at the time – carried out the work, which included installing a new pre-built, pole-mounted metal switchboard enclosure, a load centre with a main switch, protective devices, an external weatherproof socket outlet, a light and a new overhead mains cable.

    Wesco Electrics later submitted a notice of completion to Western Power certifying that the electrical installing work had been checked, tested and found to comply with the Regulations.

    The court was told that in September 2020 a Western Power inspection revealed that the metal switchboard enclosure had not been bonded to earth.

    If a fault had occurred, such as damage to cabling in the switchboard, the unearthed metal enclosure may have become “live” with lethal voltages of electricity and the protective device would not have operated.

    The inspection also found that the socket outlet on the side of the metal enclosure was wired incorrectly, with the earth and neutral conductors transposed.

    Both defects would have been detected if mandatory checks and tests had been carried out.

    On 24 June 2022, Wesco Electrics pleaded guilty to delivering a notice of completion for work that was not completed in accordance with the Regulations.

    In addition to the fine, Magistrate Gregory Benn ordered the company to pay costs of $581.30. His Honour noted the potential risk of harm to residents and tradespeople who may have accessed the switchboard, while acknowledging Wesco Electrics had no other offences in its 50-year history and had taken steps to improve its practices.

    On 22 July 2022, Mr Thomas pleaded guilty to carrying out electrical work that did not comply with the Wiring Rules and therefore breached the Regulations.

    His Honour ordered Mr Thomas to pay $592.30 in costs and noted the “potential disaster” to a home owner or tradesperson in the months before the fault was detected.

    WA’s Director of Energy Safety, Saj Abdoolakhan, said the case should remind electricians about the importance of performing adequate checks and tests to ensure their work is safe.

    “In this case, the potential hazards were left for months, which is unacceptable,” he said.

    “The company then falsely declared that the electrical work was checked, tested and complied with the Regulations, when it obviously did not.

    “These checks and tests are compulsory. There is simply no excuse for cutting corners with any area of electrical work when people’s lives can be at risk.”

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