Australia Sydney light rail investigation finds four others received shocks at CBD site

11:16  03 august  2018
11:16  03 august  2018 Source:   abc.net.au

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Anna Lambden, 15, was taken to hospital in June after she felt a sensation like pins and needles coursing through her body while walking in wet socks along George Street in Haymarket.

An independent investigation commissioned by the State Government found the incident was caused by an electric cable being compressed between the lid of a traffic signal pit and its supporting frame.

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The insulation wires had been worn away which sent electricity surging through the pit lid.

The situation was exacerbated by wet weather.

The report found the danger may have existed since February, when the last recorded access to the pit was made by a light-rail contractor.

But it also concluded it was possible another party had accessed the pit since that time.

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Investigator, John Guselli, also found two homeless people potentially received an electric shock in the same location a week earlier but had not reported it to authorities at the time.

When the teenage girl was injured, her friend and a passer-by who went to help were also given a shock — bringing the total number of people affected to five.

Roads minister, Melinda Pavey, conceded it was lucky nobody had been killed.

"It is fortunate that the girl was a strong, healthy girl — if you had a pre-existing condition ... or you're elderly there could have been a different circumstance," Ms Pavey said.

"We are determined to ensure that this type of incident never happens again."

Ms Pavey said she had spoken to the mother of the teenage girl to apologise and the Government also tried to make contact with the homeless people affected.

She said the Government had bungled its initial response to the incident, because it failed to realise how serious the situation was.

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"I am furious at how this could have happened and how in the aftermath the transport cluster handled itself — it simply wasn't good enough."

Pits audited to ensure safety

Secretary of Transport for NSW, Rod Staples, said the pit in question was not a standard design, which was found to have likely contributed to the incident.

He said the pit would be modified and action was being taken to ensure the safety of other pits.

"All of the signal pits in George Street and in and around the light rail project have gone through a thorough inspection and no safety issues have been found in any other pit at this time."

But with 33,000 pits across Sydney, the Chief Executive of Roads and Maritime Ken Kanofski conceded the Government could not currently guarantee all pits around the city were safe.

"We have no record of any other pit of this nature," Mr Kanofski said.

"We have conducted investigations on 352 pits, we have an ongoing assurance process that's been agreed with Safe Work NSW in order to provide assurance on pits across the system."

Ms Pavey defended the fact that no one had lost their job over the incident.

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