Increasing incident of electrocution of PDD linemen

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Authorities blame linemen of not maintaining safety measures

Ishtyaq Ahmad

Srinagar, Dec 18: There has been increase in tragic incidents in which Power Development Department (PDD) linemen mostly casual labourers, who lit up the lives of others, either get electrocuted or become permanently handicapped, yet the authorities are hardly paying heed to safety standards.
The insiders of the power department said that thousands of men who work as need-based or casual workers in the PDD are always on the forefront in case of any emergency, But when any of these linemen meets a tragic accident, they are never owned by the Department or the Government, and their families are left to fend for themselves.
Everyone knows that the work of a lineman is dangerous and many have died on the job, yet the government is paying any heed to safety measures. “Linemen work involves high precision where even a small uncoordinated movement can lead to an accident. At that time, it’s the safety gear like helmet, gloves, shoes and clothing with extra layer of protection, which can mean the difference between life and death for them. But it’s a common sight to see them on poles without any safety gear. How many linemen must die before the PDD make safety first priority,” said one of the insiders of PDD department Kashmir.
Sources said that during the last two years scores of persons died on spot while repairing the transmission lines. “At present, there’re 550 need-based linemen registered in the valley working in the Department. Though there are no exact figures about the fatalities which have taken place so far across J&K, around 15 workers, including need-based workers, casual laborers and regular employees (linemen), lose their live every year on an average,” said sources.
The sources disclosed that every year at least 20 appointees/employees get severely injured with some of them ending up with amputation of arms or legs due to severe burns.
Sources said that there has been no formal training for the linemen working on power distribution network. “Formal training is vital for the PDD lineman. For this, it’s mandatory for the department to have Linemen training school. But we don’t have this in our state. Our linemen and the daily-wagers who work on the power supply network have themselves “learnt” the “deadly” job of installing and repairing the live system,” said one of the experts in PDD.
Experts say, “Linemen need to wear helmets, safety gloves (tested to withstand particular voltages, safety belts and a proper uniform of some conspicuous colour (preferably fluorescent). Besides, the linemen should have properly insulted tools and at the top it the ladder he climbs should be robust. There should be at-lest two men supporting the ladder with a red flag nearby to caution the passer-by. Otherwise, how can safety be maintained?” experts ask while lamenting PDD.
However one of the top officials of PDD Kashmir blames linemen of not maintaining the safety lines. “We’ve everything like safety kit, give training, organize awareness programmes and show heart-wrenching pictures to employees, but they take it for granted.” the official said insisted not to be named.
The department, he says, warned the linemen even suspended some permanent employees for not taking safety equipment with them while going to repair something. (KNS)