On 15 August 2023, an apprentice electrician was sentenced in the Richlands Magistrates Court for six offences under the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (‘the Act’). The defendant, not being the holder of an electrical work licence, performed electrical work contrary to section 55(1) if the Act (charge 1). The defendant conducted a business which included the performance of electrical work without holding an electrical contract licence, contrary to section 56 of the Act (charge 2). Additionally, the defendant, as a person who held a duty pursuant to section 30 of the Act, failed to ensure the business was conducted in a way that was electrically safe, and exposed individuals to a risk of death or serious injury on four separate occasions (charges 3-6).
Over a period of about one and a half months in November and December 2020, the defendant conducted a business that included the performance of electrical work, in which he promoted himself on the service Airtasker as a licensed electrical contractor. He was a fourth-year apprentice at the time and did not hold an electrical work licence or an electrical contractor licence.
During the offending period, he completed electrical work for 27 different customers. The work he performed included installing ceiling fans, power points, lights, and cooktops.
With respect of four of the electrical work jobs the defendant completed, the work did not comply with the Wiring Rules and exposed individuals to a risk of death or serious injury by an increased risk of electric shock and/or fire. In doing so, the defendant failed to comply with his duty to ensure that his business was conducted in a way that was electrically safe.
In January 2021, investigators from the Electrical Safety Office contacted the defendant who advised that he was an electrical contractor and licensed electrical worker and could not explain why the investigators could not find his details in their licence database. The defendant later participated in an interview during which he made admissions including that he performed the work in question to gain extra money for Christmas, and in relation to the deficiencies in the electrical work that is the subject of charges 3-6.
In sentencing, his Honour Magistrate Shearer took into account the defendant’s plea of guilty, his lack of any criminal history, his age, and his limited financial capacity. His Honour noted that the defendant was now 23 and had just finished his apprenticeship.
His Honour noted that the legislative scheme was designed to prevent unlicensed people from doing such work. His Honour indicated that the penalties imposed have to be a real deterrent.
His Honour indicated that as a fourth-year apprentice, the defendant did have some training, that this did not mitigate the fact that he was unlicensed, but his Honour considered that there was a lesser degree of criminality.
His Honour had regard to the potential consequence of the risk, which was considered to be obvious. His Honour indicated that the defendant could have easily eliminated or minimised the risk by not conducting the work, or having the work be supervised.
His Honour took into account that the penalty imposed would be overwhelming on the defendant.
Having regard to all matters, his Honour imposed a global fine of $45,000 for all offences. His Honour exercised his discretion to not record a conviction.
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Charge 1: Section 55(1) of the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (‘the Act’). Charge 2: Section 56(1) of the Act. Charges 3-6: Sections 30, 40C of the Act.