Failure to adequately assess and control the risks of working near live electricity left a trainee worker with serious burns, says WorkSafe.

Wellington Electricity engaged Northpower to carry out maintenance work on roadside transformers in the Wellington region. Two Northpower employees were working in Karori on 27 May 2014 when a bracket fell onto live contacts causing an electrical short, resulting in a flashover. The victim sustained serious burns that required specialist treatment from the burns unit.

The companies’ failures included; a work plan that lacked clear instructions to prompt workers to stop if they encountered increased risks or conditions that were different to what was in the work plan; not shutting off the power before any maintenance work was undertaken at this site; and not documenting their hazard assessments in one place, such as the work plan that was available to the workers

“Incidents such as this should not happen. Working near live components is a well-known hazard in the industry, and risks should be appropriately managed to protect the workers,” says WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector, Keith Stewart.


  • Each company was charged under section 163D of the Electricity Act 1992 (intentionally or negligently causing or permitting work to be done in a manner dangerous to life).
  • Wellington Electricity Limited was fined $26,000 and NorthPower was fined $30,000.
  • The two companies had previously voluntarily paid the worker $20,000 following a restorative justice hearing. Wellington Electricity was ordered to pay a further $4,030 and Northpower a further $6,000 in reparations to the worker bringing total reparations to the worker to $30,030.

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