A RESPECTED Territory tradesman electrocuted at a remote community may have died after someone flicked a circuit breaker.
Electrician Darryll Davis, 38, died while fixing a solar hot water system on the roof of a home at Ngukurr, about 580km southeast of Darwin, on Friday afternoon.
An industry source with close links to the community told the Northern Territory News that some local residents and tradesmen were questioning whether someone may have caused the electrocution by flicking a circuit breaker on the power board as Mr Davis worked above.
Community residents were stunned and saddened by the sudden death of Mr Davis, who had worked at the community for several years, and lined the streets when the contractor's body was flown back to Darwin last Saturday.
NT Police said inquiries were ongoing but the death was not being treated as suspicious at this stage. The Electrical Safety Board and NT WorkSafe are also investigating the fatality.
Electrical Trades Union NT organiser Alan Paton did not want to be drawn on speculation about what caused the electrocution but called on the NT Government to finally do something about electrical safety.
Mr Davis' death was the seventh electrocution in the Territory in the past 27 months, with six of those occurring at work.
"The NT Government has done nothing to prevent unnecessary electrocutions," Mr Paton said.
"There is still no legislation in place that requires schools, businesses, worksites or public housing to have residual current devices, which prevent electrocutions, installed.
"The Territory is also the only jurisdiction where electricians can work on live circuit boards."
Opposition spokesman Terry Mills said it was time to reassess whether the industry should be regulated again by inspectors.
Planning and Lands Minister Chris Burns said the Government was considering a range of options. http://www.ntnews.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,7034,19711336%255E13569,00.html
I feel horrible when I hear about things like this, but I feel compelled to say that no amount of regulation will prevent these things. No government can protect us all from everything and no law will stop these "accidents" they only provide a path for fixing blame and recovering losses or for prosecution. I'm sure the victims family and it appears the whole town would rather just have him alive.
#148582 - 07/06/0608:26 PMRe: Fear 'switch thrown' while sparky worked
called on the NT Government to finally do something about electrical safety.
If I were an electrician working in a place without safety regulations, I think I would be inclined to take matters into my own hands, and work safely despite the lack of a government telling me that I must do so. There IS a certain amount of personal responsibility involved.
I wonder if Mr Davis even tagged the circuit breaker with a warning. Apparently he did not have it locked off, or the loadside wire removed from the breaker to keep it from becoming energized. Had any safety procedures been used, Mr Davis would probably still be working.
I don't mean to sound coldhearted, but there aren't any laws that tell us not to step out in front of a locomotive, either. Electricity will leave you just as dead.
#148584 - 07/06/0609:40 PMRe: Fear 'switch thrown' while sparky worked
It doesn't sound as if this person was working live, and from experiance even LOTO can not completely keep this from happening. (I'll say more on that in a minute) Even working 'As if it were live', can not be done all the time. We work in a hazardous trade, things happen, although traggic. As for the stats, they do seem a little high, but I have no idea what to judge that against, like the stats for my own state.... But speculate about the same, 2-3 a year?
Anyway, a few years ago I expanded on LOTO to the extent that I remove the possibility of NON-electricians throwing a switch on me and ignoring LOTO, by pulling load side conductors out, capping and tagging them, as well as the switch.
I was working in a showroom complex here that had a sizable fire, due to a welding accident during retrofit. Many feeders had to be moved out of the fire damaged area, so I locked out and tagged the breaker for the 480-208 transformer I was working partially inside of. (Suspended from the cieling.) All of the tenents were allowed in the building to clear out one day, and I was constantly harrassed about lighting and power in thier units whenever I was seen by these morons. One in particular was in a lispy hissy fit that he could not turn on his computer. You know the type, $500 suit makes him more important than you.... The #%$&bag didn't see me around and pryed off my breaker lock (They are not too hard to get off!) with the tag saying "Danger- Electrician at work on this circuit" and flipped on the transformer I was working on, as well as some other things that other people were working on. I got 277 from my hand to my EAR, and fell off my ladder right in the doorway to see him standing at the panel with my tag in his hand. I got a big gash in my chin. It took two guys to pull me away from him, until they realized that he was why they got nailed too. After a big fiasco with security he was no longer allowed in the building until we were done, completely done - two months later. After that we had a big site meeting with all the subs and the building, and decided to LOTO, and pull out the load side conductors, and tag those too until a coordinated reconnect could happen. We did this because there was just too many morons wondering the building who had no idea what they were doing, but were accustomed to using 'breakers as switches' for thier units. The same policy still is in use there since then. I have carried it on after that, and it seems to serve me well.
Mark Heller "Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
#148585 - 07/06/0611:27 PMRe: Fear 'switch thrown' while sparky worked
My understanding of the Regs is that you'd have to have an isolator up within sight of the unit on the roof, regardless of the condition of the Circuit Breaker below. That's why that particular clause of AS/NZS 3000 exists. There's absolutely no reason why this guy had to die.
#148587 - 07/08/0612:28 AMRe: Fear 'switch thrown' while sparky worked