Safe electricity, safe workplaces!

With the technological advancement that has come upon us, companies can no longer afford to operate without electricity. However, the misuse of electricity could result in serious dangers, injuries or even worse, death. To raise awareness Eskom has declared 11 to 17 August 2014 as the National Electricity Safety week.

The week is not only meant to acknowledge the use of electricity in our businesses but also to provide extensive education for employees and employers about the safe use of electricity to prevent fatalities in a workplace. Eskom and the government want to hype awareness and alertness about proper and improper handling of electricity. Most workplaces rely on electricity-powered machinery, tools or equipment to ease labour hence; employees are exposed to electricity and its hazards on a daily basis.

“We have identified that the biggest contributors to electrical accidents, injuries and fatalities are contact with low-hanging conductors, unsafe connections, vandalism, illegal power connections and cable theft,” Corporate Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Operations Manager at Eskom, Alex Stramrood, said.

It is alarming to note that some businesses use illegal connections which is jeopardizing the health and safety of their employees. Stramrood said, “businesses and residents regularly connect to the Eskom network illegally, which is not just dangerous for the individual making the connection but also places the community or company at risk.” Most importantly, illegal connections are responsible for causing power failures to paying customers as they simply draw too much energy from the grid.

Eskom encourages health and safety officials to use this week to proactively create awareness and dish out information about the safe use of electricity and highlight its hazards if it is misused. Although it may sound familiar, Eskom emphasises that:

  • Do not pull out plugs by the cord.  This damages the cable and can lead to electrical wires being exposed.
  • Do not put bare electrical wires into sockets.
  • Do not touch any electrical appliances with wet hands.
  • Never use electricity in the bathroom; water and electricity are a dangerous combination.
  • Do not pass electric cords from one room to another through hinges of doors or windows where they can be squashed or damaged.
  • Do not overload plug points.
  • Never leave electrical appliances unattended while in use.
  • Switch off heaters, stoves, and kettles when no longer in use.
  • Ensure that you purchase electrical products from reputable companies, distributers, and retailers.
  • Report illegal connections and other forms of electricity theft.

Organising an induction or a seminar would be ideal for companies. In the seminar, employees could be educated on how to identify bad connections or electricity hazards. Employees could also be educated on the importance of humanity by using electricity sparingly. This can be achieved if employees are encouraged to switch off machinery or equipment if it is not in use or if it is not required to be on. This would extensively help serve electricity for the next person to use.

Employees should be further warned against trying to fix or touch faulty electricity cables as they do not have the adequate knowledge to do so. Eskom is encouraging all people to call in Eskom employees or a registered contractor to fix faulty cables or electricity units to reduce cases of electrocutions and injuries in the part of employees.

Eskom this year will be conducting educational shows in areas like Winterveld and Piet Retief to draw attention to the dangers associated with the unsafe use of electricity. It would be advisable that employees send their safety representatives and officials to attend these events so that they acquire more knowledge and skills which, in turn, they would share with employees to enhance and maximise safety and security in workplaces.

Employees should be encouraged to report illegal connection if they come across any or suspect that it could be illegal at their premises, on in nearby areas. This may be unwelcome to some employers or companies but the safety of employees comes first.

A special hotline has been set up where unsafe electricity connections can be reported:  08600 37566 or 0800 112 722 or reporting electricity theft to Operation Khanyisa by sending an SMS to Crime Line on 32211. The service is anonymous and costs only R1 per SMS.

Electricity is a serious health hazard if it is unsafe. Let us connect with Eskom and join the campaign for National Electricity Safety week.

Posted date: 20th Nov 2014
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