Denishar Woods shock report fails to lay blame

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A report into an electric shock incident that left Perth girl Denishar Woods with severe brain damage in March 2018 has failed to establish who was to blame for the incident.

The 250V shock – more than five times the amount that can cause serious damage to the body – occurred when Denishar was turning off a garden tap at her family’s home.

She was not expected to survive the incident, but was able to breathe unassisted when life support was withdrawn, according to the ABC. She now requires 24-hours-a-day care.

The report found that a neutral conductor in a cable supplying electricity to the home failed after prolonged heating, causing the tap, which is connected to the protective earth system, to become electrified.

Denishar’s mother Lacey Harrison described waiting for the reports findings to be revealed was “agonising”.

“Waiting to only find out that their conclusion is that they can’t really put fault to a name, yeah it is tough,” Ms Harrison said.

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“It is sad that no one has taken full liability and put their hand up.

“The State Government needs to not cover up their mess but take responsibility, because there is never a night that I get to go to sleep properly.

It wasn’t the first incident at the home that was reported to the Department of Housing of electrical faults. The Department of Housing said these incidents were all attended by a licensed electrician and fixed, but were not conveyed to Western Power.

Ms Harrison told reporters “Homeswest, I don’t believe, are at fault because their records state that they have never had to maintain that neutral earthing box, so my blame is towards Western Power.”

Western Power says it welcomed the release of the report.

“Our continuing thoughts are with Ms Woods and her family following this terrible incident,” Western Power said in a media release.

“Western Power supports the thorough and independent investigation of all serious electrical incidents.

“The report highlights that many factors over an extended period contributed to the slow deterioration to the single-phase aerial connection at the property, which led to the accident.

“Reporting an electric shock early, even if it is a small tingle, it’s extremely important because a shock of any intensity can be a warning sign that a larger hazard may be developing inside a property or at the connection to the network.

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“We echo Building and Energy’s advice to report any shock or tingle to Western Power immediately on 13 13 51.”

Western Power is working with Building and Energy to develop a public awareness campaign to encourage the community to make the call when they experience electric shocks and tingles.

Western Power also received $61 million in funding from the State Government to install advanced metering infrastructure, which will help detect some electric shock warning signs. 

They have already installed 23,000 advanced meters and the communications infrastructure connecting them will go live in mid-2020, adding another layer of safety to the network.

The government offered the Woods family a $1 million act of grace payment, which they have not formally accepted.