Dunedin electricity distribution network provider Delta Utility Services has been fined $35,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $49,600 after a worker fell six metres after low voltage arcing on lines he was working on.
Delta had earlier pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the Queenstown District Court yesterday on a charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE) of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the employee was not exposed to the hazard of low-voltage electricity while at work.
The worker was completing a service connection in Cardrona in November 2014. A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation found the worker did not disconnect the power supply before working on the line.
He was using a crescent spanner and made contact with the line causing a low voltage arc which caused him to fall to the ground. He suffered compound left leg fractures and a fractured lumbar vertebra. He is still unfit for work and continues to receive medical treatment.
“Delta should have had an effective policy in place that required the worker to eliminate of the risk of such an incident. In this case that would have meant disconnecting the power completely at the road,” said WorkSafe Chief Inspector Keith Stewart.
“None of Delta’s written policies specifically required elimination, nor any explanation of how the hazard could have been eliminated.
“Elimination of any hazard at work is always preferable to isolating it and Delta could have prevented this unfortunate incident if it had provided written guidance on how to eliminate the risk of low voltage arcing,” Mr Stewart said.