$30,000 fine for dangerous electrical error

  • Potential risk for residents or merchants accessing the switchboard
  • Fine of $25,000 for an electrical contractor and $5,000 for an electrician
  • Meter’s metal case not grounded and power outlet incorrectly wired
  • An electrical contractor and an electrician have been fined $25,000 and $5,000 respectively after wiring errors left parts of a property in Kalamunda unprotected from electrical hazards for five months.

    The cases against Wesco Electrics (1966) Pty Ltd (EC1419), based in East Perth, and Paul Michael Thomas (EW145745), of Madeley, were heard separately at Midland Magistrates Court following proceedings brought by Building and Energy under of the Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991.

    Information presented to the court showed that Wesco Electrics was contracted in March 2020 to supply and install a replacement consumer power pole on the property.

    Mr. Thomas – an electrician employed by Wesco Electrics at the time – carried out the work, which included the installation of a new pre-built, pole-mounted metal switchboard box, a load center with a switch mains, protection devices, an external watertight socket outlet, a light and a new overhead mains cable.

    Wesco Electrics then submitted a Notice of Completion to Western Power certifying that the electrical installation work had been checked, tested and found to comply with the Regulations.

    The court was told that in September 2020, a Western Power inspection found that the metal enclosure of the switchboard had not been grounded.

    If a fault had occurred, such as damaged wiring in the distribution board, the ungrounded metal enclosure could have become “live” with lethal electrical voltages and the protective device would not have worked.

    Inspection also revealed that the power outlet on the side of the metal casing was incorrectly wired, with the ground and neutral conductors reversed.

    Both faults would have been detected if the mandatory checks and tests had been carried out.

    On June 24, 2022, Wesco Electrics pleaded guilty to giving a notice of completion for work that was not completed in accordance with the Regulations.

    In addition to the fine, Magistrate Gregory Benn ordered the company to pay costs of $581.30. His Honor noted the potential risk of harm to residents and merchants who may have accessed the switchboard, while acknowledging that Wesco Electrics had committed no other violations in its 50-year history and had taken steps to improve their practices.

    On July 22, 2022, Mr. Thomas pleaded guilty to having performed electrical work that did not comply with the Wiring Rules and therefore to have violated the Regulations.

    His Honor ordered Mr. Thomas to pay $592.30 in costs and noted the “potential disaster” for a homeowner or tradesperson in the months before the defect was detected.

    WA’s energy safety manager, Saj Abdoolakhan, said the case should remind electricians of the importance of carrying out adequate checks and tests to ensure their work is safe.

    “In this case, the potential dangers have been left for months, which is unacceptable,” he said.

    “The company then falsely claimed that the electrical work had been checked, tested and complied with the Regulations, when this was clearly not the case.

    “These checks and tests are mandatory. There is simply no excuse for cutting corners in any field of electrical work when people’s lives may be in danger.

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