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Prosecution Details

Offender Jeremy Paul Blakiston Fowler
Trading Name Then Electro Power Services


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 GN5267/08 17 May 2006 3rd March 2009 3A(2)(a)(i) $10,000.00 3rd March 2009
Description of Breach(es)

Being a person that had, to any extent, control of a workplace where persons who were not employees of the Accused worked, failed to take such measures as were practicable to ensure that the workplace was such that persons at that workplace were not exposed to hazards: contrary to section 22(1) and 22A(3) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

Western Power engaged Outback Power Services to perform works and construct a voltage regulator compound on Lot 10737 Three Springs - Eneabba Road, Eneabba. Outback Power was an approved Western Power contractor. This work was overseen by a Director of the entity behind Outback Power. Almost all of the work was handled by the Director. The compound was constructed adjacent to and almost underneath overhead powerlines carrying 33,000 volts (33 kv).

The compound had neared completion when the Director's son took over management of the construction of this compound. The final work required to complete this compound included the drilling of two holes near the existing substation to put in earth bars to earth the regulator compound. Outback Power were engaged to construct the physical compound. However the commissioning and interfacing of the compound with the powerlines was to be performed by Western Power linesmen.

Outback Power contracted to the drilling contractor to perform the drilling works. The drilling contractor had performed drilling work for Outback Power previously.

Outback Power contracted with the Accused (then t/as Electro Power Services but subsequently incorporated) to supervise the drilling works to be performed at sited. The Accused had previously contracted with Outback Power. The Accused was an experienced electrician and held the relevant qualifications to perform electrical work at that time and had completed Outback Power's safety inductions.

On 16 May 2006 the Accused and the drilling contractor met at the Eneabba Pub, briefly discussed the work to be performed the next day, ate a meal at the mess at the nearby mining operation and retired. The drilling contractor was accompanied by an assistant. The Accused was accompanied by his brother.

Early on 17 May 2006 they went to site. No formal pre-start meeting was held. Except for advising where the earth bar holes were required the Accused did not give the drilling contractor any directions regarding the work to be performed, nor was any JSA completed for the job.

The drilling contractor maneuvered the drilling rig into position and raised the drilling rig mast whilst the Accused "spotted" for him ensuring he was going to clear the overhead powerlines. The position the drilling contractor chose to align the drilling rig in to drill the holes required him to park underneath the powerlines and to raise the mast of the drilling rig very close to the powerlines. The Accused did not advise the drilling contractor to approach the area from another direction or discuss any such options with him.

The Accused did not enquire whether the overhead powerlines were live or not and simply assumed they were. However the care taken in raising the drilling rig mast indicates that the Accused was aware of the danger live cables presented. The Accused admitted as much in later records of interview. The erected mast was within 3m of the powerlines and was approximately 700mm away from them.

Once the mast was raised the drilling rig needed to be repositioned slightly. To allow the truck to be moved the hydraulic outrigger rams were raised (ie the tyres were lowered). As the left hand outrigger was raised the truck dipped and the elevated mast tilted towards the powerlines. It is not clear where the Accused was at this stage although it appears he had gone to remove the ring-lock fencing at the other end of the compound to allow the drilling rig access to drill the other hole required.

The mast touched the powerline and the drilling contractor was electrocuted and thrown backwards from the drilling rig. He can be considered fortunate to have not received major injuries.

The work being performed was work related to the operation of the regulator compound, which was in close proximity to the overhead powerlines. The compound was designed to regulate the voltage flowing through those powerlines. Accordingly the powerlines formed part of the workplace though no actual work was to be performed on these powerlines.

The Accused was engaged to supervise the drilling contractor's work at the regulator compound and at that time was the person in control of the workplace. As an experienced electrician the Accused ought to have been aware of the danger live powerlines presented to persons required to work near them.

It was practicable for the Accused to have positively checked whether the powerlines were live and to have not permitted the drilling contractor to commence works until the powerlines had been properly isolated. A Vicinity Authority Permit was available from Western Power for this purpose which would have suspended the automatic trip reset mechanism on that powerline and not permitted the line to re-energise if the circuit breaker had been tripped. Alternatively it was possible for arrangements with Western Power to have been made to isolate power to that area so work in the vicinity of those powerlines could be performed without the risk of electrocution. As this work was being performed for Western Power such a thing would not have been difficult to arrange.


Outback Power

Outcome Summary

Plead Guilty

Court Perth
Costs $878.70

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