Handymen warned of dangers of electrocution

A Kilbirnie man who was electrocuted when he stapled through a live wire while installing aluminium underfloor insulation is the third do-it-yourself handyman to die this year.

Wellington coroner Garry Evans said Peter Campbell, 36, a computer programmer, received a shock while under his house in April.

A staple was found through a wire on a floor support, and a staple gun was next to him.

Mr Evans said two other home owners, in Huntly and Papatoetoe, had died in almost identical circumstances this year.

"New Zealand men are busily engaged each weekend in doing up their houses," he said.

There were dangers of DIY that they needed to be warned about, and publicity was needed to help prevent further deaths.

Mr Campbell's wife, Trina, heard him yell out, then say he was all right. When he did not answer her again, she called an ambulance.

However, the fire service arrived and removed Mr Campbell from under the house. Despite more than 30 minutes of treatment, he could not be resuscitated.

William Lowe, electrical inspector and senior technical officer with the Economic Development Ministry, said after concerns about the deaths of three home owners, a warning notice was put into insulation products at the point of sale, and the makers of the product were being asked to put warnings on the packaging.

Safety information was also available on the website ess.govt.nz.

A fourth death more than two years ago had been of a professional installer who had not followed correct procedures, Mr Lowe said. Each accident involved a staple going through a wire, leading to electrocution.

Among the items found under Mr Campbell's house was a sheet of instructions about installation but it did not include any advice about turning off the power.

Mr Lowe said Mr Campbell seemed to be a competent handyman who had done an excellent job with the insulation.

But he warned that just turning off the power would not completely solve the problem as the foil insulation could go live once the power was switched back on.

Mrs Campbell asked about the length of time it took for help to arrive after she dialled 111.

Inquest officer Senior Constable Bob Gibbison said that no ambulances were available so the fire service had been sent.

Mr Evans said he would have inquiries made and reserved his decision.

The Dominion Post