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Incident Overview

Workers were onsite removing a large redundant fibreglass oven and supporting infrastructure, fixed walkways and ladders from a Client’s site.

During this process, a worker was asked to cut a section of steel using a grinder so it could be removed from the area. As the worker was cutting, an electrical flash has occurred as the wheel of the grinder cut through an unknown live electrical cableon the reverse of the steel.

How are the people involved?

  • There were no persons injured in this near miss.

What immediate actions were taken?

  • Work was suspended at the site and the incident reported to management who attended and initiated an investigation.

What further actions are required?

  • Update all workers on the requirement to ‘Test Before You Touch’ prior to cutting cable
  • Job planning to include electricians to ensure verification of isolation occurs prior to work commencing.
  • We cannot rely on others to isolate correctly. We must protect our workers checking all electrical cables, circuits and inspect cut areas before commencing work.

What systems failed and how did these failures contribute to the incident?

  • Unknowingly the wrong tool was being used for the job (cutting cable). N.B. this did not change the outcome.
  • Worker was in a EWP at the time of incident. They did not inspect reverse side of steel prior to cutting.

'Test Before You Touch’

  • should always be applied before any electrical work is done
  • There was no physical verification of isolation during the work task. Verbal client verification is inadequate
  • Industrial buildings often have several feeds. Project isolation did not account for alternate feeds
  • Long term project and first reported active feed found. Some work team complacency is suspected.


  1. All electrical isolations are to be verified by testing known cables and circuits
    Test Before You Touch

* Where a task involves the cutting of cable trays, roof trusses or similar, the immediate cut area is to be marked, infrastructure verified and then cut once proven safe.
* Cable tails should be marked and capped to identify energy state.

HSE Contact: Michael Kelly
Date of Issue: 28 October 2019

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211 Electrical Cable Cut
Categories: Safety Alert