Electrical fault may be the cause

AN electrical fault is the likely cause of death of a young Rockhampton man who was electrocuted while installing insulation at a Stanwell home last week.

Rueben Barnes, 16, died on Wednesday, November 18 while installing ceiling insulation.

The death is being jointly investigated by the Electrical Safety Office and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

“Initial findings suggest that a fault in the electrical installation in the ceiling cavity is the likely cause of the fatality,” says an industry newsletter released yesterday.

“A cable supplying the stove circuit was damaged by a ceiling fixing screw causing the supporting metal ceiling batten to become energised at approximately 240 volts.

“This is the second electrocution death of an installation installer in the last four weeks.”

The Morning Bulletin understands this problem relates back to work that was done on the property in the early 1990s.

The newsletter has been emailed to every electrical contractor and company, ceiling insulator and all relevant stakeholders in Queensland.

Insulation installers had previously been warned of the dangers associated with installing ceiling insulation near electrical equipment including cables, light fittings and ceiling fans.

“Tragedies like this could be avoided if basic safety precautions are followed,” the newsletter says.

“In particular, the information on turning off electricity and wearing adequate personal protection, including footwear and clothing, are fundamental in providing safe working arrangements.”

Following last week’s tragedy the Electrical Trades Union called for a complete halt on any ceiling insulation workers until new safety protocols were put in place. While this hasn’t occurred, from December 1, new guidelines mean ceiling insulation must not be installed until a formal “risk assessment” has been done.

The Electrical Safety Office and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation is continuing.



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