THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Upset by the casual attitude of its workforce towards safety at the workplace, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has made safety belts compulsory for all personnel working on electric poles and towers. The decision comes on the heels of four separate accidents this year - three of them fatal - which have forced the government-run power company to up the ante on safety.
The KSEB has ordered work should not be undertaken on electric posts unless the personnel are rigged with safety belts that are of the ‘hanging-type, fall-arresting’ mechanism. According to the decision taken by the KSEB full-time directors, the chairperson of the utility’s division-level safety committee and the safety officer should ensure adequate supply of safety belts.
Four accidents already this year have prompted KSEB to take a second, sharper, look at safety. A contract worker fell to his death on February 2 in Karuvatta. The power utility subsequently concluded the mishap could have been averted had he been equipped with the ‘hanging-type, fall-arresting’ safety belt. On February 7, a contract worker fell from a 14-metre-tall pole in the Alappuzha transmission division and was seriously injured. On February 14, another contract worker fell to his death in the Ernakulam electrical circle. Again, in March, the absence of a safety belt was counted among other lapses as a reason for the death of a contract worker in the Muvattupuzha electrical division.
The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) had made safety belts compulsory for workmen under Section 19 (2) of the CEA (Measures Relating to Safety and Supply) Regulations in 2010 itself. Since then, alarmed by the rise in fatal accidents a while ago, KSEB had also introduced the Permit to Work (PTW) system, setting crystal-clear guidelines for authorisation of work on electrical installations. But the fact remains KSEB employees and contract workers have been largely reluctant to use safety equipment.