EGT Safety Alert 78: Electric shock - circuit identification failure

14 November 2018

The internal walls of a commercial premises were being removed for refurbishment. To accommodate this, all circuits affected were removed from the supply (load tail) at the identified load centre, then terminated into insulated connectors. Cables within the walls were disconnected, removed and terminated into junction boxes with the tails left in the ceiling for future use.

The tradesman and the apprentice jointly tested the outlets with a metral tester, which indicated not live. 

The tradesman then re-energised the unaffected circuits and mistakenly powered up the circuit that they had just identified for removal.

The failure to re-test resulted in a shock when the apprentice grasped the outlet to disconnect and made contact with a live conductor.

Root cause

  • Inadequate work procedures;
  • Lack of knowledge; and
  • The Identify, Isolate and Test the circuit before Touching (IITT) procedure was not followed.

Contributing factors

  • Failure to follow procedures – both the apprentice and the tradesman failed to re-test before touching a conductor;
  • Using equipment improperly – the apprentice did not have a volt stick with him; and
  • Inadequate/improper protective equipment – the apprentice was not wearing protective gloves.

Key points

  • Correctly following the IDENTIFY, ISOLATE and TEST before TOUCHING (IITT) procedure would have avoided this incident;
  • This incident happened on a Thursday, EGT and the host employer were not informed of this incident until the following Monday. As a result, the apprentice involved received a written warning for failing to report the incident to EGT and, along with the tradesman involved, may face further disciplinary action from Building and Energy (formerly EnergySafety). 

    It is critical that all electrical incidents are reported to your host employer and to EGT as soon as practical.
  • Make the work site safe, seek medical attention if required and then report the incident.


For further information regarding this Safety Alert, please contact EGT on (08) 6241 6100.