Local News North of the River

North Perth electrician’s costly $27k mistake

A North Perth electrician has been ordered to pay more than $27,000 in fines and costs after a wiring error caused two tradesmen to receive electric shocks at a building site near Rockingham.

The potentially lethal error was the result of the works of electrician Santo Sgroi, who was found guilty of breaching WA’s electricity licensing regulations at the conclusion of a criminal trial at Perth Magistrates Court on the 10th June 2020.

The court was told that Mr Sgroi attended a Golden Bay property on 25 August 2015 to transfer an energy consumption meter from a temporary installation used by builders to the main switchboard at a new home.

He was privately employed and carrying out the work as part of Western Power’s Contractor Connect Scheme, which permits accredited electricians to connect some new installations to the utility’s network.

After leaving the property, a tiler and gas fitter both received electric shocks from the switchboard, with the latter being referred to hospital for further treatment.

A Western Power inspector found that the connection of the active and neutral load conductors at the meter was transposed, causing the surrounding earthed metal components to become live with electricity.

During the trial, Mr Sgroi’s defence team argued that the incorrect wiring could have resulted from vandalism or tampering by someone else after he had left the site but this could not be backed up by concrete evidence.

Magistrate Thomas Hall said based on the facts, the only reasonable inference was that Mr Sgroi caused the transposition and failed to test the meter properly, resulting in electric shocks to two people.

Also in a damning indictment, he noted that although Mr Sgroi was an experienced electrician, he failed a Contractor Connect Scheme audit one month after the incident.

“Fortunately they were not seriously injured, but they could have been killed,” His Honour said.

Mr Sgroi was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $22,214 in costs.

In November 2017, Western Power pleaded guilty and was fined $50,000 in relation to the same incident because Mr Sgroi was an authorised worker for the network operator.

He has since been removed from the Contractor Connect Scheme.

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