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Prosecution Details

Offender Laurence Victor Shrigley
Trading Name Shrigley Drilling Contractors


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 GN5275/08 17 May 2006 28th October 2009 3A(3)(a)(i) $40,000.00 28th October 2009
Description of Breach(es)

Being a self-employed person failed to ensure, so far as was practicable, that the safety of persons who were not the Accused's employees was not adversely affected in whole or in part as a result of a hazard that arose from or was increased by the work that was being performed by the Accused and by that failure caused serious harm to another person; contrary to section 21(2)(b)(i) and 21A(2) 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 the work was handled by the Director. The compound was constructed adjacent to and almost underneath overhead power lines 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 2 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 power lines was to be performed by Western Power linesmen.

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

Outback Power contracted with another person (then t/as Electro Power Services but subsequently incorporated) to supervise the drilling works to be performed at site. This person had previously contracted with Outback Power. He was an experienced electrician and held the relevant qualifications to perform electrical work.

On 16 May 2006 he and the Accused met at the Eneabba Pub and briefly discussed the job. The Accused was accompanied by the injured person, an acquaintance who was there to assist the Accused.

The injured person was not the Accused's employee nor was he engaged as a contractor. He was on a disability pension and occasionally assisted the Accused as a volunteer for his own personal reasons. He was not remunerated at all although the Accused paid for all of the injured person's expenses. The injured person was assisting the Accused because the Accused's usual assistant (his wife) was unavailable. The injured person's role was generally limited to driving the support vehicle for the drilling rig and general labouring, loading and unloading of the vehicles.

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 experienced electrician did not give the Accused any directions regarding the work to be performed, nor was any JSA completed for the job. The Accused maneuvered the drilling truck into position and raised the drilling rig whilst the electrician "spotted" for him ensuring he was going to clear the overhead power lines.

At this stage the Accused had not enquired whether the overhead power lines were live or not. The Accused had assumed the lines were live although he did not think there was an issue working near these as long as care was taken. The mast was erected within 3m of the power lines and was approximately 700mm away from them.

Once the mast was raised the truck needed to be repositioned slightly. The Accused advised the injured person that this was required and asked him to drive the truck forward slightly. To allow the truck to move the hydraulic outrigger rams were raised (ie the tyres were lowered). As the left hand outrigger was raised the truck dipped downwards and the elevated mast tilted towards the power lines. It is not clear where the electrician was at this stage although it appeared that with the mast having been raised 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 power lines and the Accused was himself electrocuted and thrown backwards. As instructed, the injured person had been making his way towards the cab of the truck and was in contact with the truck at the time the mast touched the power lines. He was electrocuted when his hand touched the door of the cab and his other hand grasped a nearby gate. The electricity earthed through him. This generated enough heat to set his clothes on fire. He was found on the ground with his clothes on fire. He was attended to, the flames extinguished and was conveyed to hospital.

The injured person received burns to approximately 60% of his body. He required extensive treatment for these burns. His injuries constituted serious harm as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

It was practicable for the Accused to have positively checked whether the power lines were live and to have not attempted to commence works until the power lines 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 power line 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 power lines 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.

Western Power had in fact advised Outback Power that such a permit could be arranged if they were advised that work near the power lines was being performed.

Outcome Summary

Plead Guilty

Court Magestrates Court of Western Australia - Perth
Costs $1,370.70

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