’Skilled and capable’ cafe worker killed by dishwasher
A coroner says it's time all Tasmanian workplaces are fitted with safety cut-off switches after a worker died by electrocution at Pyengana's Holy Cow Cafe.
Guy Redman Clark, a "skilled and capable man" who had been promoted from cook to facilities supervisor, died in October 2015 when he touched a live terminal inside a dishwasher - leaving behind a wife, two children and four grandchildren.
In his findings released on Tuesday following an inquest last year, Coroner Simon Cooper noted when the cafe was first built, safety switches to break electrical circuits were not mandatory in commercial premises, but became mandatory soon afterwards.
He said Mr Clark's life might have been saved if the cafe had safety cut-off switches installed, recommending authorities ensure that all workplaces, no matter when they were built, were fitted with the devices.
Mr Clark was removing a coffee machine from the premises to have it serviced, but water began gushing out when he and a co-worker moved it.
The two men put the coffee machine down to find and turn off its tap.
As they did so, a water pipe connected to the dishwasher below became dislodged.
While Mr Clark's colleague fetched the replacement coffee machine, another colleague heard a "bang" and rushed into the cafe, finding Mr Clark electrocuted.
A forensic pathologist later found burn marks on Mr Clark's right palm and left arm, determining a current had flowed through him right arm, central chest and neck and through his left arm - resulting in a seizure and fatal cardiac arrest.
"It seems he attempted to fix the glass washer; that is reconnect that machine's wash pipe," Mr Cooper said.
"He removed the washer's front glass panel, placed his hand and arm inside the machine, touched a 'live' terminal and was electrocuted."
Mr Cooper said the dishwasher's power source wasn't turned off, and noted because a residual current device (RCD) - commonly known as a safety switch - Mr Clark was exposed to a shock greater than 240 volts.
An appliance technician later inspected the dishwasher and found the water pipe had been incorrectly installed so it leaked water into the machine's electrical motor.
"The unequivocal evidence is that RCDs save lives - and one may have saved Mr Clark's life. In my respectful view, it is time for their installation to be mandated, and not just prospectively," he said.
"Accordingly, I recommend that the appropriate authorities commence the necessary steps to ensure the installation of RCDs in all workplaces, regardless of when the workplace was constructed."
Mr Cooper also said an investigation by WorkSafe Tasmania was "inadequate", stating the regulator did not identify or interview anyone responsible for the dishwasher's poor electrical installation.