Electrical company fined for unsupervised apprentice

Community Energy Group, trading as Space Solar, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday to a single charge of failing to provide the supervision necessary for employees to perform their work safely and without risk to health.

The court heard that on 19 June 2019, two Energy Safe Victoria officers observed solar panels being installed on a property at Craigieburn.

Further inquiries revealed that the apprentice was working unsupervised, installing electrical cables into a live switchboard, and installing solar panels with no edge protection on a double-storey property.

The company’s director, who held a valid electrical licence, had not been on site since earlier that day, the court heard.

The apprentice had no formal training in the work that he was directed to perform. The equipment he was handling at the time was energised.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said it was never acceptable for apprentice electricians to undertake work without being effectively supervised by qualified electricians.

“This incident could have easily ended in tragedy,” she said.

“It is vital that inexperienced workers are properly supervised, trained to perform their tasks safely and encouraged to speak up or ask questions if they are unsure or feel unsafe.”

Tips for electricians to work safely:

  • Always de-energise and lock-out the switchboard or circuit to be worked on.
  • Always test for live to ensure all parts are de-energised before starting or restarting work.
  • If working on or near an energised installation, ensure a Safe Work Method Statement is developed and adhered to.
  • Ensure apprentices are effectively supervised.
  • If the power cannot be turned off, reschedule the work to a time when the power can be isolated.

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