TIRUPPUR: Workers of the Tamil Nadu Generation & Distribution Corporation Ltd (TANGEDCO) have been risking their lives during repair works to provide uninterrupted power supply to the consumers as they have not been given safety gears for the past three years and training for two years.
According to police records, 13 workers have been electrocuted during the repair works of TANGEDCO (Tiruppur) in the past three years in Tiruppur city. More than have been severely injured in the same time period.
One of the injured, K Kumar (41), suffered severe burns after climbing a transformer without safety gear. Narrating his experience, he said, "I was working as an electrician for a contractor and later joined as a contract electrician at TANGEDCO. I was asked to climb a transformer in Olapalayam in Tiruppur on
January 11, 2018, to record the number of electrical lines. While I was on top without any safety gear, the incoming jumper of the transformer was cut off and I suffered burns on my hands and a leg from the return supply. I was thrown off the transformer in the impact and admitted to a private hospital. I also suffered a crack in the backbone.
"After intensive treatment for 20 days, I was discharged on January 31. While the bill came to `4 lakh, I could only pay `2.5 lakh. I filed a complaint at the Anupparpalayam police station but withdrew it after the TANGEDCO promised to pay the rest of the amount. My friend Ganesh, who is also a lineman, was electrocuted while repairing a transformer in Tiruppur city four months ago. He, too, wasn't given any safety gear," he added.
According to TNEB safety rules, all field workers should be offered Electrical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The kit includes helmet, rubber hand gloves, safety waist belt ropes, safety shoes or boots, discharge rod and earth rod. These equipment are designed to protect workers from electrical hazards while working on electrical equipment and construction sites. But they were offered by TANGEDCO (Tiruppur).
Speaking to TNIE, TANGEDCO-Labour Progressive Federation (Tiruppur) secretary A Saravanan said, "No safety equipment was procured or offered to the workers. Few sub-section offices have safety waist ropes and gloves but they are old and obsolete. The most important piece of equipment is the earth rod. It offers safety to workers even if the power is switched on. It consists of three large sections of wood with a large copper hook. If the power is on, the rod buried in the soil acts as an interface and makes current flow towards the ground and saves the life of the worker. It costs just Rs 1,000 - Rs 2,000. The whole kit could be procured for less than Rs 5000. Besides, it is procedure to conduct safety classes at each sub-section office the second week of every month. But, very few offices follow it."
On the condition of anonymity, several assistant engineers of TANGEDCO (Tiruppur) told TNIE that the safety equipment haven't been procured for the past three years.
Superintending Engineer at Tiruppur, L Stalin Babu, said, "This is a serious issue and I will check on the safety equipment at all sub-section offices in Tiruppur. I will seek a detailed report from local officials about the old and obsolete equipment. After the study, an indent order will be issued to procure and supply the safety items. As far the safety awareness classes, I will take strict action against the officials, if these classes aren't conducted in all the offices in Tiruppur."