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SKELEC share experience from fourth Linesman rodeo


by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): On April 28, 2023, the Federation celebrated World Day for Safety and Health at Work, and this year, the theme was “A Safe and Healthy Working Environment; A Fundamental Right.”

As part of the Saftey Week of activities, linesmen from the St. Kitts Electricity Company (SKLEC) participated its fourth Linesman rodeo.

“Typically, a linesman rodeo would be a series of events tailored to linesmen, where they get to show their skills. Some of the events include “Hurt-Man Rescue”, Speed climbing, they actually do Basket Ball Toss on the pole and then some very specific tailored events to their craft like maybe fuse cut-out installation, binding of wires, whatever the mystery task is at the time is just thrown out on that day, and the linesmen have to automatically adjust and see who could do it the best in the fastest time… It’s the highlight for the linesmen; it’s their opportunity to be out in the public and shine and show their skills. They receive a lot of appreciation from the display of their talents, and we encourage them to participate each and every year in this event,” Jomo Williams, General Manager at the SKELEC, during the May 2 broadcast of WINN’s Island Tea,

SKELEC staff were engaged in different scenarios that posed dangerous situations for the company’s staff, including a robbery at the Needmust Plant and electrocution.

A video making the rounds on social media showed one of the linesmen pretending to be electrocuted, and many were unaware of the drill. The linesman involved was also interviewed on Island Tea, where he spoke of his experience.

“I had my eyes closed, so I didn’t see anything. I could hear; I was listening… and from me listening, my team reacted [well]. They all were frightened… I didn’t mean to frighten them like that.”

The staff involved were unaware of the specific tasks for the rodeo in an effort to get authentic reactions from the linesmen.

“That’s where their training comes in… so we’ve been training them for these types of events over and over, and as part of Safety Week, we were like, okay, let’s throw this one out there and see how they react. I was actually on the scene when it occurred, and I was talking to Mr Gardener, and then I was just waiting for Mr Lake to react. As soon as I saw him react, I then started to panic to see what Mr Gardener would do.”

Some of the simulations involved in the safety exercises were outlined during the interview.

“There was an armed intruder simulation at the Central Street Building, then the second one was the Hurt-Man Rescue at Shear Lane, the third one was the bomb threat at the Annex Building, which is located behind the Water Department (that one was really interesting) and then the fourth one ended at the power station where we simulated a gentleman going to check levels on one of the tanks and [him faiting] to see how long it would take somebody to realise that something was wrong.”

Williams said that the current push by the electricity company for more customer engagement was to all avenues available as an opportunity to change public opinion of the SKELEC.

“For some years, St. Kitts Electricity Department, now SKELEC, has been seen in a negative light, and we have the attitude that we have to highlight and showcase the positive of SKELEC. We know we would like to have lower bills; we don’t control the price of fuel, we are making the initiative in investing in renewable energy to help bring that cost down. So all of this – the imaging, the marketing, and the branding – it’s just part of a wider strategy by the board and the company to help propel SKELEC to be the number #1 utility in the Federation.”

The purpose of the drills during World Day for Safety and Health at Work was to highlight some of the hazards that could happen surrounding the operations of workers at SKELEC, sensitise the public on those risks, and show the contingencies the electricity company has in place.


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