Survive Don't Work Live

Electrical workers and apprentices in the Northern Territory are urged not to undertake live electrical work on switchboards or any other live electrical infrastructure.

Electricity is dangerous and slightest contact can cause an electric shock, arc flash or worse. Despite knowing the dangers, electrical safety incidents involving licensed electrical workers and apprentices continue to happen.

From 2019 to June 2022 there has been:

  • 2 electrical workers fatally electrocuted (one was an apprentice).
  • 15 electrical workers injured and received worker’s compensation.
  • 32 electric shock notifications (11 involving apprentices).

What is working live?

Working live is installing, maintaining, repairing, altering, removing or adding to an electrical installation whilst still connected to a source of electrical supply or subject to hazardous induced or capacitive voltages.

  • Working live dramatically increases the risk of electric shocks, an arc flash or arc blast injuries and electrocution. The following video is the story of two electrical workers who survived an arc flash incident.

  • Don’t work live. Before starting a job, always following the following process:

    • Plan your work, including doing a risk assessment.
    • Follow any safe work procedures.
    • Communicate with the site manager the need to disconnect the power so you can safely work.
    • De-energise supply and isolate the equipment or circuits.
    • Lock-out and tag-out to prevent accidental re-energisation.
    • Always test before you touch.

Working live is prohibited

It is illegal for an electrical worker to work live1. on a switchboard or any other electrical installation.

In addition to the above Regulation, other laws prohibit apprentices from working live in the Northern Territory.

1. Exemptions apply for work carried out by or on behalf of an electricity supply authority.

Right to stop or refuse unsafe work

Working live is unsafe and as mentioned above prohibited under law. All workers have the right to stop or refuse unsafe work, including electrical workers asked to work live by their manager or the client.

Electrical workers and apprentices who feel pressured to work live or any other unsafe work should contact NT WorkSafe on 1800 019 115.

Information for businesses and the public

  • Whether you are hiring an electrician for your workplace or your home, you have an important role to help keep the electrician safe. All electrical work is dangerous and it is important that electricians disconnect the power so they can work safely.

    When you engage an electrician, schedule a time when they can work at your home or business with the power turned off.

    Remember to always use a licensed electrician. A list of licensed electricians in the Territory is available on the electrical licensing board website.