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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Take extreme care with electricity in cyclone aftermath

    Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Thursday, February 03, 2011

    Take extreme care with electricity in cyclone aftermath

    North Queensland residents are being warned about electrical dangers in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Yasi.

    Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick said residents of cyclone-affected areas should take extra care when handling electrical equipment or using generators in the aftermath of the devastating event.

    Mr Dick said residents and business operators needed to be aware of the risks posed by the use of portable generators and damaged electrical appliances and equipment.

    Safe use of generators
    He said people using generators as a power source because of loss of mains power should be aware that generators could be extremely dangerous if not used properly.

    “If you are using a generator to power your home, it must be connected via a change-over switch that has been installed by a licensed electrical contractor, who can ensure the generator is connected safely,” he said.

    “Because of the risks of electric shock or injury, it is vital that users follow the safety advice of both licensed contractors and the generator’s manufacturer.

    “Using a generator to supplement domestic electricity during a power outage also carries dangers of poisoning from carbon monoxide gases, fire and electrocution.”

    Solar panel safety
    Mr Dick also warned residents about the electrical safety risks posed by solar panels in cyclone-damaged areas.

    He said anyone working around solar panels should treat the panels and their cables as if they were live.

    “If you are on the roof, keep well away from solar panels and their cables. If a building is unroofed or solar panels end up on the ground, the same care should be taken. The panels may be live.”

    Because solar panels, often called photo-voltaic panels, are powered by the sun (or any other source of light), they continue to supply electricity, even when the mains power has been switched off.

    “This means that even if the street power has been disconnected and the main switch turned off, there may still be live cables within the building which, due to cyclone damage, may present a risk of exposed live electrical parts,” Mr Dick said.

    Electrical equipment and appliances
    Mr Dick said damaged wiring and electrical equipment could cause electrocution, shocks and fires.

    “Rather than run the risk of a terrible accident occurring, residents need to work with electricians and their local electricity supplier to keep themselves safe,” he said.

    “Household items, appliances and power tools that may have become wet as a result of the cyclone should not be used until they were checked by an electrician.

    “Rather than taking the risk of using these appliances, residents should get them tested by a licensed electrical contractor or dispose of them appropriately.

    “Larger appliances that have been in contact with water, such as air-conditioning units, should also be inspected by a licensed electrical contractor before use.

    “Residents are also urged to take particular care around fallen powerlines. Stay clear of any fallen powerlines and contact your electricity supplier to make the area safe.”

    Reconnecting electricity
    Mr Dick said damaged buildings had to be inspected by a licensed electrical contractor before electricity could be reconnected.

    “Home owners whose properties have been damaged by wind or flooding must engage a licensed electrical contractor to inspect the wiring to ensure it is safe,” he said.

    “Once a contractor has provided written advice that it is safe to do so, Ergon Energy will reconnect electricity as soon as possible.”

    More information on electrical safety is available from Ergon Energy on 13 22 96, Energex on 13 12 53, the Electrical Safety Office on 1300 650 662, or at

    Safety hotline extended
    Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s flood safety clean-up hotline has been extended to help cyclone-affected employers and workers stay safe.

    The 7am to 7pm hotline, operating daily, is 1800 177 717. For more information, visit

    Media contacts:
    - Office of the Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister 3239 3487
    - Electrical Safety Office 3224 7382