Worker back after injury

IT'S been almost eight months since Nicholas Evans was injured in an electrical accident while working for SunWater on the Gibber Gunya pump station near Theodore.

Mr Evans suffered first and second-degree burns to his hands and arms. He spent eight days in hospital and has only recently resumed full duties at work.

A fortnight ago SunWater was fined $35,000 in Biloela Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to the safety breach resulting in the grievous bodily harm injury.

The court heard that Mr Evans required a skin graft after the switchboard on which he was working on November 10 last year short- circuited.

Electrical Safety Office representative Trevor Little said there were a number of breaches that culiminated in the incident.

He said Mr Evans had never been adequately trained to undertake the task, he had only observed the job being done five days earlier; he was working unsupervised and without a safety officer present; no written risk assessment for the task had been completed and a trip (safety) switch was not installed on the switchboard.

“With the mining boom, SunWater have had difficulty attracting and retaining experienced staff,” Mr Little said.

Mr Little said SunWater had well documented policies and procedures in relation to workplace, health and safety, but in this case there was a breakdown in translating the written processes into the work environment.

Mr Little also applauded SunWater for its co-operation during the investigation into the incident, and said it had even carried out its own audit.

This had resulted in extensive changes being made to work practices.

“But it is a bit like shutting the gate when the horse has bolted.”

SunWater's legal representative Mr Hardmann said the Gibber Gunyah switchboard had not been extensively checked since it was installed 15 years ago, but maintenance was done on it every six months.

“This incident happened during one of these six-monthly checks.”

Mr Hardmann said SunWater admitted the application of safety policies had not adequately applied in this instance.

“A trip (safety switch) has now been put into place at the pump station,” he said.

“This task had been undertaken numerous times over the years without incident.

“Mr Evans is a licensed electrician and had previously worked as an electrical supervisor at Monto Minerals for 11 months.

“He had only been with SunWater for eight weeks and wasn't fully trained by SunWater to carry out the task.”

He said an electrical safety implementation plan for Gibber Gunyah with no fewer than 20 in-depth action items, had been implemented and rolled out to SunWater sites statewide.

“Mr Evans returned to work on December 22 and has since resumed full duties.

“He is unlikely to suffer any long-term effects and has told SunWater that he is happy with the way SunWater dealt with the incident.”

SunWater agreed to pay the Electrical Safety Office's investigation costs.

Mr Evans required a skin graft after the switchboard

short- circuited

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