The resolve, NERC said, was based on the high rate of deaths from electrocution recorded in the power sector between 2012 and July 2013.
According to the commission, 161 persons lost their lives during the period as a result of electrocution, adding that some of the deaths were due to negligence on the part of the chief executives of the affected firms.
Speaking at a consultation workshop on health and safety code for the Nigerian electricity supply industry, the Chief Executive Officer, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, said, “We have decided to punish financially, and in many cases, remove the CEOs (of power firms) who show flagrant negligence to issues of health and safety.
“From statistics available to the commission, last year alone, the industry witnessed 102 deaths from electrocution across the country and 72 injuries. In 2013, between January and July, the country witnessed 59 deaths and 60 injuries. These figures are, to say the least, extremely high and unacceptable.”
Amadi stated that the greater percentage of the electrocutions occurred in the electricity distribution companies, adding that the commission, therefore, deemed it necessary to ensure the safety of both the workers and members of the public through the implementation of the health and safety code.
The NERC boss said the commission received a special grant from the United States Trade and Development Agency to develop the electricity health and safety standard manual in order to improve safety culture in the sector.
He said, “The commission found it imperative to codify the health and safety manual to make it a set of rules and penalties for the compliance of all licensees. Therefore, the health and safety code is a reflection of the manual, but with compliance requirements and strict penalties.”
Amadi noted that the final draft code had been put in place by the codification committee, which had members from major stakeholders such as the electricity generation and distribution companies, Independent Power Plants, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Power and Ministry of Justice.
He said, “The health and safety standards embodied in this code have been developed to reduce to zero safety incidences/accidents in the field. It is noteworthy that existing safety guidelines and standards were last reviewed in 1988. Safety practices are, to say the least, almost non-existent.
“With the code in place, it is expected that the industry operators will step up the health and safety activities in their respective companies. From now on, electrocution cases will no longer be treated lightly.
“The NERC is doing everything possible to ensure cost reflective tariffs thereby improving the funding and revenue drive of utility companies through the MYTO. It is, therefore, expected that greater attention should be given to the improvement of efficiency and safety of the networks, especially the distribution companies.”
– Okechukwu Nnodim, The Punch