Summary of electrical accidents between 2012 and 2014
Between 2012 and 2014, the electricity sector has recorded 219 accidents. Of these, 104 (47%) were fatal with the remaining 115 (53%) being non-fatal.
Fatal accidents were predominantly involving members of the public with 97 accidents recorded. This represents 44% of the total accidents.
Analysis of accidents involving members of the Public
Table 3: Accidents involving members of the public between 2012 and 2014
Northern region recorded the highest number of accidents with 68, followed by Eastern region with 48 and Western, Harare and Southern region with 22, 21 and 12 accidents respectively.
Fatal accidents reduced slightly in 2014 to 29 from 37 as recorded in 2013. This represented a 22% drop.
Preliminary analysis of the accidents within Northern region has indicated that most of the accidents occur within rural communities and farming areas were illegal extensions is rampant.
REGULATORY INTERVENTIONS FOR ELECTRICAL ACCIDENTS
Electrical accidents on the ZETDC transmission and distribution networks continue unabated and this is cause of concern for the Authority. The majority, if not all of the accidents could have been prevented; appropriate regulatory interventions will certainly aid a reduction or total eradication of the accidents.
Electrocutions have increased from nineteen (19) in 2009 to thirty-four (34) in 2012 translating to a 78% increase. 14 fatalities have been recorded up to the second quarter of 2013. The majority of these electrocutions involve members of the public.
It is also worrying to note that the majority of electrical accidents that occur across the country go unreported and their causes unknown. This suppresses accidents statistics and also hampers implementation of corrective action.
In a bid to reduce/eradicate accidents in the electricity sector, ZERA, has done a review of the electrical accidents recorded by ZETDC and categorized them according to four broad categories. The categories will assist in identifying focal points when conducting Consumer Safety Awareness campaigns as well as engaging the relevant stakeholders for corrective action.
An analysis of the accidents by category is detailed below with final recommendations of regulatory inputs in trying to reduce or eradicate the accidents given at the end of the document.
The four broad categories are:
- Theft and Vandalism
- Infrastructure Collapse
- Work in progress not being secured and Unsafe operations by ZETDC employees
- Unsafe operations by members of the public
Below is a summary of accidents recorded from 2009 to date.
F-Fatal NF-Non Fatal
2009 – 2013 statistics
|1||Theft and Vandalism||Vandalism of transformers, switchgear, cables and conductors||12||5|
|2||Infrastructure collapse on employees||Failure of equipment such as switchgear during operation||23||9|
|3||Infrastructure collapse on members of the public||Wooden poles which collapsed due to age, decay and lack of maintenance. This points to lack of statutory inspections.||34||37|
|4||Unsafe operations by employees||Incomplete works were left unsecured (barricaded ), securing the working area before commencing work, employees not following the correct safety procedures when isolating the working area and unsafe acts during work.||12||19|
|5||Unsafe operations by the public||Unsafe operations at home included bridging connections, illegal connections, and ignorance of electrical hazards in home and at farms.||33||61|
Category 1: Theft and Vandalism
Theft and Vandalism of electrical infrastructure carries with it a statutory prison sentence of over 5 years. Courts have however been lenient to offenders in most cases. This has not been deterrent to thieves and vandals who continue with their activities unabated.
Reinforcement/securing of the electricity infrastructure is required as this will further reduce incidents of vandalism. There is need to engage the communities to be responsible for local infrastructure.
On the regulatory front, the Authority will propose to the parent ministry stiffer penalties to vandals as a further deterrent measure and also institute licensee compliance audits to ensure the electricity infrastructure is secure at all times.
Category 2: Infrastructure collapse
Infrastructure collapse on employees
The majority of faults under this category involved 11kV wooden poles which collapsed due to age, wear and tear. Failure of equipment during operations also contributed to the causalities.
It should be noted here that there are standing statutory inspection periods for electricity infrastructure and in instances these would have been breached as there will be no records to prove inspections having been carried out.
Infrastructure collapse on members of the public
The majority of faults under this category involved 11kV wooden poles which collapsed due to age and decay and came into contact with other infrastructure such as telephone lines.
The major cause for most of the faults under this category is lack of adherence to maintenance schedules and no safety inspections. In the instance of an 11kV line which fell onto a telephone line, lack of adherence to design manuals (Engineering Instruction) is evident since a cradle should have been in place to mitigate against such incidents.
The Authority’s responsibility is to institute licensee compliance audits on the licensee infrastructure as this will certainly curb most of the accidents.
Category 3: Work in Progress not protected and unsafe operations by employees
This category includes accidents involving both public and employees during maintenance works or when incomplete works were left unsecured (barricaded) as well as securing the working area before commencing work. The case of employees not adhering to the correct safety procedures when isolating the working area as well as unsafe acts during work is included.
Public safety regulations are currently being drafted as a way of criminalising activities by licensee staff which bring harm to members of the public.
Category 4: Unsafe operations by the public
This category considered accidents that involved members of the public. Unsafe operations at home included bridging connections, illegal connections, ignorance of electrical hazards in home and at farms and unsafe installations.
Some of the unsafe operations by members of the public can be linked to lack of statutory installation inspections by licensees.
Licensee infrastructure compliance audits will be enforced as a corrective measure.
Regulatory Interventions Summary
The Authority will ensure that the following recommendations are implemented:
- ZERA had written to ZETDC highlighting potentially dangerous electricity infrastructure which may harm the general public. This infrastructure includes substations with broken doors and exposed cables. ZETDC has since rectified the collapsed infrastructure and also committed to regularly monitor the infrastructure and increase consumer safety awareness campaigns.
- Ensure licensee compliance to infrastructure maintenance programmes and installations (houses, factories etc.) through regulatory compliance audits.This intervention will no doubt curb illegal and unsafe connections to a greater proportion
- Drafting of public safety regulations that govern the electricity installations and safe use of electricity. The regulations will introduce deterrent penalties for persons responsible for causing electrical accidents.
- The Authority will complement licensees in conducting safety awareness campaigns to educate members of the public on safe utilisation of electricity. Safety issues are covered at exhibitions, and through advertisements in the print and electronic media. Pamphlets and posters have also been produced to help disseminate safety-related information. The safety circulars discuss the accidents, causes and lessons learnt with the aim of preventing recurrence.
- The Authority will complement licensees in campaigns against theft and vandalism of electricity infrastructure. This is to further buttress safety regulations currently being drafted.
- Electrical contractors (who carry out electrical installation fittings for licensee customers) should have minimum qualifications and be affiliated to institutions such as SAZ\ ZIE.