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Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Queensland: electrician jailed

Queensland: electrician jailed
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A young electrical contractor in Queensland has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for manslaughter, and two years for perjury to be served currently, following the 2012 electrocution of a labourer on a large high-density residential construction site.

Nathan Brian Day will be eligible for parole after two years (Supreme Court of Queensland, Brisbane, 9 March 2018).

Day was 25 at the time of the incident. He had worked as an electrician for three years but had never done commercial-scale work. A relative was the site’s principal contractor and encouraged Day to obtain a contractor’s qualification so he could tender for the work.

It was Day’s responsibility to install a construction switchboard at the electricity supply to the site, which was required to have an isolator switch to cut power to the site, and fuses to protect each of the circuits going to the three streets within the site, and a residual safety switch.

The isolator switch and the fuses were key safety components to prevent electrocution of workers on the site. Day signed off that the site complied with the electrical safety regulations. However, he failed to install the isolator switch, and installed the fuses incorrectly. Had he done so, his later failures would not have ended in a fatality.

Day also created power outlets in weatherproof boxes around the site. Rather than burying live wires in conduit, or stringing them on posts, he ran them across the ground in conduit.

In early February 2012 there was a complaint about electrical safety on the site, which was inspected a week later. A number of fixes were identified, including to bury the live wires, and required to be put in place within a week. An extension of a further week was granted.

During this time replacement sub-boards arrived on site, to replace the temporary power outlets Day had set up. However they were missing a key PVC fitting required to secure the wiring safely, leaving wires loose within the metal box. Nevertheless Day carried on to install these sub-boards and their boxes in order to meet the fix deadline.

During this process he cut the power to each street in turn while the new sub-board and box was fitted with the help of another employee. On the third and final street this employee asked a nearby labourer to hold the switchboard upright while the base of it was filled in. The employee assumed Day had turned off the power, as he had done in the previous two cases. However Day had not done this.

The wire within the box, lacking the fitting to hold it in place, came loose and contacted the metal edge of the box. The labourer holding the box was electrocuted.

The court said this was the outcome of a series of poor decisions dating back months.

“You made a choice to take on work that you plainly were not competent or sufficiently skilled to do, but in doing so placed numerous people at very grave risk, perhaps including yourself.”

The perjury charge arose after Day, on the day of the incident, stripped out all the components from the main switchboard, and told people that he had installed the safety switch. He repeated this claim to the coroner under oath.



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From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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