Killer job: 160 Kerala electricity workers die in five years
- An assistant engineer and a sub engineer died in a blast that occured in Moolamattom power house in 2011.
- Negligence resulted in the death of permanent employees while contract workers often fall prey to faulty supervision.
- Kerala High Court had directed the state government to take steps to ensure the safety of electrical workers.
With over 160 deaths on duty reported in last five years, an electrical workers' job with the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is turning out to be one of the most dangerous ones in the state. The latest in the list is the death of a contract employee who was electrocuted while on duty at Kumbala in Kasargod.
Sreekrishna had been working as a contract employee with the Kumbala section for the past 20 years. The 50-year-old died after he suffered an electric shock while laying a line. Though he was rushed to a hospital, his life could not be saved.
In 2014 alone 29 KSEB workers met their ends after being electrocuted. In most cases, death happens due to grave negligence. Of the 160 deaths, 84 were contract employees. In 2011, an assistant engineer and a sub-engineer died in a blast that occurred at Moolamattom power house.
In May 2016, Kerala High Court had directed the state government to take steps to ensure safety and security of electrical workers within three months. Justice A. Muhamed Mustaqu said that right to protection is a human right and considering the number of deaths it is understood that existing safety measures are far from satisfactory. The court also observed that "Every employer is bound to protect the lives of his employees, especially if the job is risky in nature.”
In most cases, deaths happen due to negligence. Permanent workers are supposed to adhere to safety precautions which they often fail to follow. Contract workers often fall victims to inadequate or faulty supervision.
Though KSEB published a handbook on safety and security standards and made it mandatory for contract workers to know about operational safety, most workers are not even aware of the book.