Dirty Secret behind Linemen Deaths

by Amlan Jyoti Saikia

  • Four or five linemen on an average face fatal or semi-fatal accidents daily working on transmission lines.
  • The linemen attribute this to an acute shortage of mandatory equipment and staff.

An electrical lineman’s job is clearly one of the most dangerous jobs in India. The Dirty Secret behind Electrical Linemen Deaths is that the companies have increasingly found ways to cut back on their liabilities and expenses for line maintenance, resulting in less training, fewer experienced linemen, and a system by which companies are not held accountable or liable in any meaningful way.

We always raise complaints about the lack of a continuous power supply. But, how many times have we given a thought about the people who repair the fault lines of the electrical grids?

Have we discussed anything regarding the state of affairs of the linemen who keep the power supply continuous and attend to all our complaints irrespective of time or weather conditions?

Do you know that electricity is the fourth-leading cause of death in the construction industry?

A study of 244 fatalities conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) revealed that linemen and electricians accounted for approximately 30% of these deaths. The injuries from electrical energy grouped into three categories: electrical shock, burns and trauma.

They are the forgotten people who put their lives in danger and lose their lives only because there is a lack of will among the administration and the government to secure their safety by procuring safety gears for them. The short-handed department is running without safety components and resulting in hundreds of linemen’s deaths every year. The linemen lack mandatory safety kits and the ageing majority finds scaling of electric poles hazardous.

The Government always gives poor excuses for not rolling out tenders to get safety gears for the linemen. In addition to this, there are overstressed workers who on an average work 12 hours a day, a situation which gets worse for contractual employees.

According to a survey, there are reportedly 1,400 deaths in 3 years across India due to electricity related accidents.

In 2009-10, 77 electricity board workers lost their lives In Odisha while 84 board workers lost their lives in 2010-11. In Jharkhand, two-three deaths occur every two months. In Rajasthan, 33 discom employees died in 2016 on duty, while in 2015, 36 deaths had been reported. Three linemen deaths reported in Nagpur in 2015; eight had died the year before that.

As a responsible citizen of this country, I strongly condemn the careless approach of the government towards the linemen working in the electricity boards even after so many deaths. We demand the government to take this issue up on a war footing and secure the citizens who are risking their lives to ensure seamless power transmission.

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