Sparkie fined $10,000 for live switchboard in Sunshine Coast classroom

An incident occurred recently where an electrician was found guilty and penalised with a lofty sum of $10,000. He committed a grave violation of work safety norms by irresponsibly leaving an operative switchboard unveiled within a classroom, which significantly endangered the present students. Taking into account the gravity of this case, it emphasises the vital role of robust WHS management systems in securing work environments.

This instance occurred when the accused was engaged at a school on the Sunshine Coast as an electrical contractor. His responsibility was to set up air conditioning units within the premises. Deemed negligent of explicit instructions that asked him to halt his procedure within one temporary classroom, he decided to initiate live testing on the internal switchboard.

The contractor left the opened switchboard unattended, with its escutcheon panel dispatched and active terminals laid bare, even if for a brief duration of time. This hazardous situation was rapidly identified and reported to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland by QBuild officers who were concurrently present at the location.

This ordeal resulted in the contractor pleading guilty to multiple offences under the Electrical Safety Act. He concedes to having breached his duty by running his business without maintaining electrical safety and indirectly placing individuals at substantial risk of fatal injury. Taking note of the seriousness of this violation, the presiding magistrate elucidated how naturally curious and unpredictable school students could have been easily put at risk.

Considered mitigating factors here included the contractor’s prompt admission of guilt and the fact that this was his first offence. Demonstrating regret, he willingly agreed to take part in a retraining course along with additional mandatory courses set forth by the Electrical Licensing Committee, costing around $1,000.

The trial Magistrate McLaughlin reflected that under normal circumstances and based on the mitigating evidence provided, he would have potentially inflicted a fine ranging between $15,000 and $20,000. However, taking into account the contractor’s limited income over several years, paralleling ‘minimum wage’, he implemented a fine of $10,000 instead. A conviction was not logged on this occasion.

For more information on safety prosecutions, visit or contact the media at 0478 33 22 00 or Ensure high levels of safety at your workplace with a Bluesafe SWMS or a Bluesafe WHS Management System.

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