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$15,000 fine for worker’s fatal electrocution at Mudgee winery

AN ELECTRICAL contractor from Mudgee has been fined $15,000 for failing to appropriately supervise and direct a worker who died on the job from severe electric shock.

On March 4, 2009, 32-year-old Bathurst man, Jouke Swiegers, was installing wiring and circuit breakers for a new filtration unit at a winery on Henry Lawson Drive, Mudgee, says New South Wales Fair Trading.

Mr Swiegers was employed by 35-year-old Mudgee man, Forbye Sutherland, trading as 4B Electrical Services, to help with installation.

Between January 1 and March 4, 2009, Sutherland contracted with Wineries by Design to carry out electrical installation work at Paspaley Pearl Property Pty Ltd, trading as Bannamagoo Estate.

Fair Trading Commissioner, Rod Stowe, says Sutherland had failed to be present at all times, as required by law, while electrical wiring work was carried out by Mr Swiegers.

“On March 4, 2009, Mr Swiegers was undertaking electrical installation work for Mr Sutherland,” says Mr Stowe.

“This involved the wiring from the filtration unit to the electrical distribution board . . . of the winery shed and the installation of a circuit breaker on the distribution board.

“Sutherland failed to supervise any electrical wiring work done by Mr Swiegers and was not available to be consulted or give direction to Mr Swiegers relating to how the work was to be done correctly.”

Unsupervised, Mr Swiegers disengaged the main switch for the distribution board allowing him to work live, says Mr Stowe.

“While pulling the filtration plant wiring through the bottom of the distribution board, Mr Swiegers’ hand came in contact with the live exposed terminals at the base of the busbars,” the Commissioner says.

“Mr Swiegers suffered a severe electrical shock and died at the site.”

Sutherland was aware that Mr Swiegers was unqualified and did not hold an authority to do electrical wiring work, says Mr Stowe.

Mr Sutherland left the site to attend to another job and did not return to the winery site until he had been informed of Mr Swiegers’ accident.

“The installation of the distribution box at the time of the accident did not have the protective insulating covers in place on the head and base terminals of the busbars,” says Mr Stowe.

“These are protective insulation covers that prevent accidental contact with the busbars.”

Sutherland was convicted and fined in Mudgee Local Court last week.

 

 
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