Electric shock in the workplace is an injury you’d rather avoid.

Common causes of electrical accidents include:

  • poorly maintained equipment or installation
  • hazardous work environment
  • lack of training
  • lack of supervision
  • inadequate work practices
  • lack of electrical safety precautions
  • incorrect installation of an electrical protective device (RCD, fuse, circuit breaker)
  • poorly installed electrical circuits and equipment
  • overloading of double or multi plug adapters
  • installation of electrical wiring by an unlicensed or an unqualified electrician
  • damaged extension leads.


Your workplace need to implement a maintenance program to ensure all appliances and machinery are in good condition. A good source of information is the approved code of practice Managing electrical risks in the workplace and the Australian Standard AS 3760 In-service safety inspections and testing of electrical equipment.

Disconnect any damaged electrical appliances or frayed cords/extension leads and have them inspected and repaired by a qualified person. Make sure that you switch off appliances at the power outlet before you pull out the plug. Never pull the cord to take the plug out.

Keep all cords and leads off the floor where there is a risk of damage due to the workplace environment especially construction sites. Make sure you know the location of the main electricity supply, so you can shut off the supply quickly if necessary.

Always use appliances correctly. Make sure you read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions and any booklets or documents provided with the equipment. Unless specifically designed keep appliances away from water and wet areas. Only use appliances that you have been adequately trained and authorised to use.

Qualified electrical workers are the only persons who are permitted to perform any electrical work. Report any hazards or concerns to your supervisor or Health and Safety Representative.

Lock out and tag out

Lock out and tagging out systems (commonly referred to as the LOTO system) enable a person to lock off the isolating switch preventing someone from inadvertently re-energising the electrical supply to a machine. This is especially important for the safety of a person performing maintenance work on a machine or an electrical worker carrying out electrical work.

A company must have policies and procedures in place for the safe removal of any electrical supply and any stored mechanical energy to a machine. The procedures must include a lock out and tag out process. All persons expected to undertake any work on these machines must have adequate training.

PCBU, employers, managers, supervisors and team leaders all have a responsibility to ensure workers are adequately trained and that all equipment for the implementation of the procedure is made available.

The person who attached the lock must be the only one who is able to release the lock after all maintenance work is complete and the machinery is safe to use. In some instances the procedure may incorporate a second key for emergency use only. This second key is kept in a secure area and can only be used by an authorised person.

Everyone is responsible for safe work – so if you're not sure about something, ask someone.

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