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LAHORE: Over confidence, non-implementation of the safety code and lack of training are the main reasons behind increasing deaths of linemen during work on high tension wires/cables in the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) service areas.

Following deaths of three linemen during the last month, an inquiry team was formed to look into the matter and submit a detailed report to the Lesco board of directors’ (BoDs) health safety and environment committee within 10 days.“Pakistan Wapda’s safety code-1960 is the best ever in the world. But it is very strange that despite availability of such an effective code, the workers’ death ratio is rising. It means that the workers are used to flout it by showing extraordinary confidence to rectify the problems despite availability of all safety gadgets,” Lesco’s Chief Executive Officer Syed Wajid Ali Kazmi told Dawn.

“According to safety code, any sort of operational condition or urgency of work cannot justify endangering the life of anyone. It means in any case, the workers are required to follow the safety code,” he added.

Talking about the causes that led to three deaths last month, the official said the three workers, according to preliminary investigation, lost their precious lives just because of one reason -- behaviour, since there was neither emergency nor inquiry against them or pressure from their supervisors or threat to their jobs. They committed only one mistake of working on transformers linking 11kV wires without obtaining permits from the authorities concerned.

“Had they obtained permit under the code, which secures workers’ life as the power supply is switched off from the respective feeder before start of work, they would have been alive,” Mr Kazmi said.

He said the lack of imparting training to the workers by their seniors or the officials concerned was another reason behind such cases. Since the Lesco has already started such a programme, it needs to be intensified without any compromise keeping in view such a deep-routed overconfidence of the line staff.

Mr Kazmi said Lesco would take stern action against those who were supposed to train the field staff on safety code. “We have decided to take stern action against the field staff as well if the safety code is violated. I ask the line staff to refuse work in the absence of adequate safety gadgets if someone asks them to do so,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2017