Workplace deaths: Electricity companies ignoring the crisis

In the last two weeks of July 2019, about five incidents happened in electricity companies in which workers were dead. Despite all verbal promises by government authorities and electricity company administrative heads, the lives of workers are still in danger. The deadly incident happened in electricity companies that are handed over to the private sector, and they badly failed in securing safe workplaces for their workers. The working condition of workers working on high-voltage lines and distributions is miserable. They are working in an extremely high-temperature environment, and the equipment they are provided is obsolete and dangerous to the extent that it is unable to shield them from high-voltage shocks. Apart from this, there is a massive understaffing leading to overwork and mental stress. There is a general environment of bullying and harassment in these electricity companies. Bosses are hell-bent on increasing profits at the expense of working and living conditions of their employees.

No new proper equipment is purchased, instead of old, rusted and damaged equipment are repaired continuously. There are no purpose-built vehicles to transport workers to correct different line problems. Electricity workers are often seen carrying a heavy load of equipment along with stairs upon their head on a simple motorcycle. Work pressure is so high that often supervisors and bosses deliberately force workers to forgo safety measures. 

So far, the trade unions active in electricity companies are rendered toothless by stringent laws and regulations placed upon their activities barring them from addressing any problem in a collective manner.  The blame of every death of electricity worker is placed upon colleagues giving the impression that colleagues are incompetent enough in taking care of their peers. This practice is going on for years and years by the company bosses to divide the workers by putting the blame on deadly incidents on to each other, rather than questioning the general unsafe environment and the responsibility of bosses.

Bosses usually consort to health and safety training and seminars immediately after a disaster. Trade unions organise a mini protest outside the workplace for an hour or two. These are often the standard operating procedures after an on-duty worker is killed by an unsafe workplace. However, these actions had never able to stop deadly incidents. A whole structural change is required and a general approach that includes making workers safety at workplaces more important than any other concern of the organisation.  This can only be achieved by strengthening workers organisations and listening and acting to workers demands, which they often place time after time to ensure a safe working environment within the electricity company.