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Prosecution Details

Offender Richard James Oxford


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 Unknown at time of publication 4 May 2005 22nd September 2006 20A(3)(c) $1,000.00 22nd September 2006
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employee, did not take reasonable care to ensure his own safety at work; contrary to sections 20(1)(a) and 20A(3) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The Accused is a Network Employee (Linesman) employed by Western Power Corporation, having been employed in that capacity for some 5 years at the time of the offence. The Accused works in a self managed work crew (or team) based at Waroona.

The team is allocated, and subsequently carries out work, by way of tasks identified in work requests and Job Parcels. Work Requests are generally received by the Waroona Depot from Western Power Corporation electronically and identify in broad terms the work to be performed, while the relevant Job Parcel, which contains full details of the work, is sent to the Team Representative by mail sometime later. The role of Team Representative is performed by one of the team members on a rotational basis. Amongst other responsibilities the Team Representative liaises between Western Power Corporation and the work team in allocating work to be performed by the team. In particular The Team Representative receives the job parcels from Western Power Corporation and gives them to the team members who have been allocated the work to perform.

On 4 May 2005, the Accused set out from the Western Power Depot at Waroona with another member of the team to which he belonged (the second accused) to perform work in the course of their employment. In particular the Accused and the second accused organised between them to perform a task in accordance with Work Request SP019700. The task involved the installation of a single-phase high voltage underground cable up a pole (WW121/44/2) located outside Lot 54 McLarty Street, Waroona to service a Single Phase Underground Power Distribution (SPUD) transformer on the opposite side of the road at Lot 100. While a Work Request had been received by the Waroona depot from Western Power to perform this task, it had not been allocated by way of a Job Parcel to the Accused and the second accused to perform that day.

Before arriving at 54 McLarty Street, the Accused and the second accused ensured that the street light conductor there was de-energised. The high voltage conductor running above and parallel to the streetlight and neutral conductors at 54 McLarty Street remained energised.

Field instruction 3.16, titled 'Line Work Close to Live Overhead Mains', contained in the Network Employee's Information Handbook, a copy of which the accused had been provided with by his employer, states as follows:

All overhead conductors on the same structure must be the energised or dead for the following tasks.
- running and tensioning more than one bay of L. V. conductors parallel to and under existing H. V. conductors,
- running and tensioning HV conductors parallel to and over L. V. conductors,
- re-regulating more than one bay of uninsulated HV or LV conductors parallel to and under or over conductors either side of the work position."

Note. Tasks not covered in 3.16.6 may be done live if a specific procedure is developed and agreed to by on site personnel. This procedure must meet all safety requirements in the manuals referred to in 3.16.3 of this instruction and all equipment required must be available on site. If these requirements cannot be met then the task must be done de-energised or dead.

The Accused had also been made aware of Field Instruction 3.16 through training given to him by his employer.

After arriving at 54 McLarty Street at approximately 7:30am, the accused and second accused commenced carrying out the task. Working overhead from the bucket of a Western Power Corporation vehicle identified as Elevated Work Platform WPC 813 (the EWP) the second accused untied the neutral conductor that terminated and was connected to pole WW121/44 situated on the northwest corner of the intersection of McLarty Street and Recreation Road, (the western end of the neutral conductor). After untying the conductor the second accused passed the end of it down to the accused who laid it on the ground extending northwards from the base of pole WW121/44/1 along the eastern verge of Recreation Road. The EWP was then moved and the second accused untied the streetlight conductor from pole WW121/45, before passing it down to the accused who laid it alongside the neutral conductor.

The EWP was then moved again successively as the second accused firstly untied both the neutral and streetlight conductors from the pin insulators to which they were attached at poles WW121/44/1 and WW121/44/2, and then secondly, the neutral conductor from the pin insulator to which it was attached at WW121/44/3. The pin insulators were mounted on the cross arms affixed to those poles. The neutral conductor was left hanging on the pin insulators after being untied. The EWP was then moved to pole WW121/44/4. The second accused untied the neutral conductor from that pole, where it terminated, (the eastern end of the neutral conductor) and pulled through sufficient slack to pass the end down to the accused. The accused grasped the eastern end of the neutral conductor with both hands when enough slack became available and commenced walking eastwards along McLarty Street towards pole WW121/44/5, pulling the neutral conductor with him as he went.

This method of work used by the accused and second accused was contrary to Field Instruction 3.16. This instruction requires a specific procedure to be developed and agreed upon by all site personnel before tasks such as this are performed live. The Accused and the second accused did not develop a specific procedure to perform this work which met the safety requirements stipulated in Field Instruction in 3.16.3.

As the Accused pulled the neutral conductor eastwards, the western end of the neutral conductor was drawn towards pole WW121/44/1. At this time the second accused remained overhead in the bucket of the EWP and assisted the Accused by pulling on the neutral conductor also. As the Accused and co-accused continued to pull the neutral conductor, the western end of the neutral conductor was drawn up to the cross arm on pole WW121/44/1 where it flicked upwards towards the high voltage conductors overhead. Sensing that there could be a danger of contact as this occurred, the second accused let go of the neutral conductor and called out a warning to the Accused. At that instant the western end of the neutral conductor came into contact with a live part of the pole top switch apparatus on pole WW121/44/1, causing the Accused to receive an electric shock as the current entered his hands and earthed through his feet.

The Accused suffered burns to both hands and both feet. As well as passing through the Accused, it is likely that the fault current also dissipated through some tree branches that were in proximity to pole WW121/44/2. If this had not occurred the possibility of the Accused suffering severe harm would have been much greater.

The Accused pleaded guilty.

Outcome Summary


Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Mandurah
Costs $440.70

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