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Electrical business and director fined $160,000 over apprentice death

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A Tennant Creek electrical company and its director have been fined more than $160,000 after pleading guilty to charges relating to the death of a fourth year apprentice.

The 34-year-old electrician apprentice was electrocuted on February 25, 2019, while working unsupervised with another electrical apprentice on the roof of the Tennant Creek Fire Station.

Ridem, trading as Dexter Barnes Electrical was convicted and fined $80,000, for failing to comply with its health and safety duties in the Alice Springs Local Court yesterday.

The court also ordered the company provide $40,000 to NT WorkSafe as part of an enforceable undertaking for the development of an electrical safety campaign.

The company's director Russell O’Donnell was convicted and fined $40,000 and was ordered to complete training on hazard identification, management and due diligence.

Unnecessary loss of life

The Northern Territory’s Work Health and Safety Regulator, Bill Esteves says the tragedy could have been avoided if the company had appropriate safety systems in place and provided adequate training to the apprentice.

“Apprentices and young workers are among the most vulnerable in the workplace, and it is important they receive the appropriate level of supervision and training, especially in high risk industries such as electrical services," Mr Esteves says.

“It is also important all businesses and organisations have a safety management system in place that is suitable for their business activity and industry."

Mr Esteves says safety inspectors are encountering an increasing number of instances where businesses do not have appropriate safety systems.

He warns that directors should not think they have met their work health and safety obligations because they have purchased a system.

"Directors must ensure safe systems of work are in place, and are effective, and verify that all workers are inducted and sufficiently trained to use and comply with the system.”

It is the first time the Northern Territory courts have imposed an enforceable undertaking as part of a sentence.

The development of an electrical safety campaign aims to prevent further injury and death.