WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Tasmania

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Notify WorkSafe Call 1300 366 322
Notify WorkSafe Call 1300 366 322

Electrical power tool safety on board marine vessels

This safety alert warns the fishing and maritime industry of the dangers of using 240-volt electric power tools and equipment on vessels where exposure to sea water is a risk factor.


In November 2013, a deckhand working on a fishing vessel operating in the Gulf of Carpentaria was killed when a wave flooded the deck of the vessel.

He was operating a 240-volt portable angle grinder connected by an extension lead to a power socket within the vessel.

The deckhand was electrocuted when water from the wave made contact with the angle grinder and its plug.

Contributing factors

  • The angle grinder was not protected by a residual current device (RCD).
  • The deckhand was working barefoot.

Actions required

WorkSafe Tasmania strongly recommends that all marine vessel owners and skippers in charge of vessels conduct a risk assessment to identify:

  • if electrical equipment is designed to be used in the intended work environment
  • possible safety hazards associated with the electrical equipment and significance of the risk
  • what measures can be implemented to control or eliminate the risks.

Portable electrical tools must either be specifically designed for use in a marine environment or used in locations where they are not exposed to contact with water.

Portable mains powered electrical tools and extension leads must be kept away from water.

RCDs must protect all circuits used to supply portable electrical equipment.

Appropriate personnel protective equipment (PPE) must be worn at all times.


How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice

Managing electrical risks in the workplace code of practice

Managing the work environment and facilities code of practice

First published in May 2016

Updated: 22nd April 2022
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