Isaac Construction worker injured after electric shock in central Dunedin

Person injured in the George Street building site incident. Video / Oscar Francis / Gregor Richardson / ODT

A contractor was seriously injured after suffering an electric shock in central Dunedin this morning.

Emergency services were called to the scene outside Farmers department store around 9am today where work on a $28million renovation of George St by Dunedin City Council has started recently.

A spokeswoman for St John’s said it had dispatched a rapid response vehicle, manager and ambulance, and a patient had been taken to Dunedin Hospital in serious condition.

Isaac Construction managing director Jeremy Dixon confirmed this morning that a live wire had been severed and a member of staff had received an electric shock.

The company’s goal was to ensure there was support around the worker and her family, and that another incident like this would not happen again, Dixon said.

“It’s a shock to all of us, it’s not how we operate.”

Dixon flew to Dunedin from Christchurch today.

Emergency services on site this morning.  Photo / Gregor Richardson
Emergency services on site this morning. Photo / Gregor Richardson

A CDC spokesperson said the employee was working on upgrading the George Street-Retail neighborhood.

“WorkSafe has been notified and a full investigation into exactly what happened will take place in due course.

“However, our immediate focus is the welfare of the worker and co-workers who witnessed the incident.”

The site where the incident happened – on George St between Moray Pl and St Andrew St – has been secured and closed until further notice, they said.

Michael Johnston, senior officer at New Zealand Fire and Emergency Station, said a power tool cut through a live electrical cable.

A spokeswoman for Aurora Energy said the contractor suffered a “flashover” while working in a trench.

Power company crews went to the site to make sure it was safe, she said.

A WorkSafe spokesperson confirmed that they were made aware of the incident.

Initial inquiries were underway, but no investigation had been opened, he said.

‘Big Bang’

An Otago Daily Times reporter at the scene said emergency services personnel could be seen giving first aid to someone who appeared to be an injured contractor lying next to a ditch where teams had carried out work to improve George St.

A nearby store worker said she heard a loud bang, followed by people running and calling for an ambulance.

Another said he felt a loud clicking noise for about a second and then saw a person lying on the building site.

Work began this week on the $28 million upgrade of George St and surrounding areas by Dunedin City Council.

George St is being renovated.  Photo / Gregor Richardson
George St is being renovated. Photo / Gregor Richardson

Initially, the old underground pipes will be replaced in the George St block between Moray Pl and St Andrew St and the renovation of this first block, including paving, is expected to be substantially complete in October.

The larger project is expected to be completed in 2024.

Alice F. Ponder