A linesman who missed a safety meeting then suffered an
electric shock and fell off his ladder has failed in a bid to
challenge his sacking.
Cameron Nelley, a Top Energy linesman, missed a safety
briefing on the morning of April 1, 2013, that identified
hazards on the job that day. Missing the meeting cost him his
job, and his second mistake could have cost him his life
after he fell 6m off a ladder after receiving an electric
Now, after challenging the decision to sack him, he has been
ordered to pay $10,000 in legal costs to his former employer.
Mr Nelley had been dismissed in May 2013 after he suffered an
electric shock from an 11kV line in Opononi. He fell 6m into
bush and suffered minor burns to both hands. He was flown to
Whangarei Hospital where he spent two nights.
Before work on April 1, 2013, he had missed the morning
hazard identification meeting run by his supervisor that
identified potential hazards, work to be done and in which
An afternoon shutdown at two poles Mr Nelley worked on was
scheduled to start later than 1pm that day but he thought it
would start at 12.30pm.
As he attached his safety harness, he came into contact with
the live wire.
Top Energy conducted an investigation and found Mr Nelley
breached the Safety Manual - Electricity Industry (SM-EI),
code of conduct and disciplinary policy that resulted in his
sacking. He unsuccessfully took the company to the Employment
Relations Authority, arguing several factors led him to
believe the line he was working on was de-energised.
Top Energy, he said, didn't routinely require compliance with
SM-EI because if it had, his accident would not have
But authority member Tania Tetitaha said given the nature of
his job, being around an extremely hazardous substance,
namely electricity, he should have followed appropriate
procedures prior to starting work.
Mr Nelley raised a contradiction in the company's finding
that he started work on site without signing the access
permit that allowed them permission to worksites.
He questioned why another employee who accessed the network
without signing the access permit wasn't dismissed but
instead given a written warning.
On his failure to attend the hazard identification meeting,
Mr Nelley said he didn't believe it was required as he
thought he knew the hazards well enough when he did not.
Following the authority's decision, Top Energy applied for
costs of about $20,000 from January 22, 2014 to completion of
Mr Nelley gave evidence of loss of income for 12 weeks
following his dismissal, the uncertainty of future earnings
and his personal and financial difficulties.
He was ordered to pay the $10,000 by weekly instalments of
- By Imran Ali of the Northern Advocate