Electrical risks are risks of death, shock or other injury caused directly or indirectly by electricity.

Even the briefest contact with electricity at 50 volts AC or 120 volts DC can have serious consequences to a person’s health and safety.

Identifying hazards and risks

Potential hazards and risks include:

  • working on or near an electrical supply that has not been de-energised, isolated and locked out
  • unidentified live permanent wiring
  • working alone where a job requires two (or more) people to undertake the task safely
  • using metal tools close to live electrical wiring
  • residual current devices (RCDs) not fitted
  • where RCDs are fitted and not all circuits are protected
  • multiple electrical circuits in the area where works are to occur
  • contacting deteriorated, brittle or poorly installed live wiring
  • existing faults to earth wiring may be present.

Risk control measures

Minimise risks as much as practicable by:

  • identifying and assessing the scope of works and assess the work area for electrical cables
  • visually checking the work area for any cables to ensure they appear to be in good condition and that there are no exposed connections or cables
  • de-energising the installation or part of the installation to eliminate the risk of an electrical shock
  • using appropriate lock out and tag out procedures at the circuit breaker or isolator once the electricity is de-energised
  • using appropriate signage once the electricity is de-energised
  • verifying the installation is de-energised - treat the electrical installation as energised until testing confirms that de-energisation has been achieved
  • re-testing the circuit to ensure it is still de-energised before recommencing work, if the de-energised installation is left unattended
  • developing safe work procedures for electrical work
  • preparing a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) for high risk construction work (HRCW) (for construction work only) in consultation with workers before working on or near energised electrical installations or services.

Legal duties

Duty holders must:

  • so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of workers and contractors
  • provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are safe and without risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • provide workers with the necessary information, training and instruction, and supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health
  • ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that people other than workers are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the PCBU’s conduct

Workers must:

  • take all practicable steps to keep themselves safe in the workplace and ensure they do not place others at risk of harm.

Energised electrical work must only be undertaken where it is absolutely necessary, such as testing, and must not be carried out merely because it is convenient.

Further information

Electrical work

Managing electrical risks in the workplace – Code of Practice

A building and construction industry guideline is to available to provide practical guidance on the safety requirements for electrical practices on construction and demolition sites.

Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)


SafeWork SA would like to thank WorkSafe Victoria for the base source of information.