Safety needs thought, commitment and focus 24×365 days and hence needs continuous communication with customers to nudge them to take action and make themselves safe.
As we have celebrated the National Safety Week in the first week of March, it is worth reflecting how risk (i.e. lack of safety) is an overlooked aspect for us in our day-to-day lives. It is often seen that people ignore risks and adopt unsafe practices – whether it is crossing the road while the signal is red, walking with mobile phones on the stairs, working at height on an infrastructure project without adequate protective equipment or living with unsafe wiring in old houses etc. overlooking the consequences.
We seem to live by the mantra of ‘Trust the Almighty’ (Bhagwan Bharose) when it comes to safety and are probably the biggest “Khatron ke Khiladi”. This maverick and callous attitude has resulted in huge losses in terms of life and property. As a nation, we have seen it all – industrial accidents, train accidents, building or bridge collapse, road accidents and the perennial fire or electric accidents.
Of all the above, as an organization involved in electricity distribution the fire accidents in customer premises pose unique challenges. ‘Beyond the Meter’ responsibility like household wiring and correct usage of electric appliances lies with the consumer, and hence necessary precautions must be taken at all times. As per the recent National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, the analysis of fire incidents revealed that more than 50 per cent of total fatalities were due to electrical short circuits. More alarming is a recent newspaper report mentioning that electrocution kills nearly 30 Indians a day while highlighting the gaps in the overall power supply value chain in the wake of India’s mass electrification program ‘Power For All’, a joint initiative of the Government of India and the State Governments to provide 24×7 electricity to the end-users.
It has been seen that customers are either unaware or are not sensitized enough about the risk or have accepted this risk as normal. Meanwhile, fire accidents in factories, hotels, educational centers, homes etc. are on the rise and hit the national headlines on a regular basis. Who can forget the major fire incidents in a Surat’s Educational Center, Mumbai’s Phoenix Mall, Delhi’s Uphaar Cinema and the recent fire at Anaj Mandi in Delhi which have claimed hundreds of innocent lives. But in addition to these major incidents, there are several smaller-scale ones that don’t make it to the headlines.
The key question for all of us to answer is “What can make people take action to safeguard themselves and others from electricity related fire accidents which makes us so vulnerable?”
A responsible distribution utility is expected to take measures such as extensive customer communication particularly on the usage of a simple safety device – the Earth Leakage Circuit breakers (ELCBs) which is the most critical defense in case of a short circuit and can play a very critical role in preventing shocks. In case of any short circuit, the ELCB detects current leakage and automatically trips and disconnects the electricity supply to the premise or the equipment in use. This is as good as a seat belt or an air bag in a car – a protective device which can save lives in case of an accident. Distribution utilities must facilitate their customers to install and replace older ELCBs at their premises and take this up a special drive.
Besides ELCBs, the major issue of electric safety emanates from the poor or improper wiring or cabling. Inadequate capacity or low-quality wiring may cause a short circuit and can lead to major accidents. We all have to make it a practice to ensure proper checking or replacement of internal wires every five years. Perhaps the exercise can be best coupled with whitewashing or painting of houses.
The extension of houses or balconies near the electric installations (poles, network) especially in congested areas (unauthorised colonies and busy markets) also poses a great threat to the inhabitants and the public at large. This issue is extremely challenging as demolition of these structures is a herculean task in our legal system. So we continue to live with these risks. Additionally, awareness about the standards of several electric appliances (geysers, irons, immersion roads, room heaters et al) that are used in daily life is not sufficient. These appliances may not necessarily be made or used as per the stringent quality certifications or standards laid down by the National Standard Body of India – Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) with ISI Schemes causing accidents at the users’ side.
In such an alarming situation, safety needs thought, commitment and focus 24×365 days and hence needs continuous communication with customers to nudge them to take action and make themselves safe. Further, technology solutions readily available can help vanquish this risk and enable them to keep enjoying the empowerment of electricity without being jolted by it!
Written By: Mr. Ganesh Srinivasan, CEO, TATA Power-DDL
Originally Published on ET EnergyWorld: https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/energy-speak/safe-power-for-all-is-the-need-of-the-hour/4106