The newly established Earthing and Lighting Protection Association (ELPA) is busy working towards the launch of its Certificates of Compliance (COC) programme by the end of November 2017. This is part of ELPA’s stated aim of improving and empowering those in the lightning protection industry in order to protect life as well as property, as per the organisation’s motto, “Achieving certainty through certification and compliance.”
ELPA national director, Trevor Manas, says, “It has been a concern for some time in the earthing and lightning protection industry that, currently, there are no formal recognitions or competencies required to sign off on the Lightning Protection Safety Report (or COC) – legally, no qualification is required. Hence, ELPA has developed its own lightning protection system (LPS) safety report according to the SANS 10313 Code of Practice, allowing for only ELPA-accredited people with valid accreditation numbers to be able to sign off on an ELPA-certified COC.”
ELPA was formed by a group of experts in the lightning protection industry from around the country and formally established in June 2017, with the support of various institutions such as Wits University, the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa (ECA) and the Department of Labour. The umbrella body aims to assist with providing industry accreditations, certification, benchmarks for quality of design and installation, as well as information and education on lightning safety.
Manas says the COC programme is aimed at ELPA-accredited designers, installers and inspectors and the intention is to have it up and running by year-end. He clarifies, “This COC programme represents an integral part of ELPA becoming recognised as the lightning protection professional body of South Africa. When we look at the COC programme holistically, it entails the keeping of a register of all ELPA-accredited designers, installers and inspectors. The COC programme thus includes the register of designers and installers itself, and the inspectorate whose members check the work being done by the installers. All these elements are linked together and each is an integral part of the COC programme.”
Manas says that implementing a system which is proactive and not reactive in monitoring will drive accountability, and in turn conformance. He clarifies, “This is done through the process of inspecting the respective registered person’s work, which is initiated through the issuing of the COC by the respective designated individual on their completed work. The work is to be inspected by ELPA and, if required, a rectification work report is to be issued to the respective individual. Failure to comply to the rectification report could result in the installer’s registration being revoked, fines imposed and or compulsory training.
“The importance of having a COC programme with a proactive enforcement methodology and accountability cannot be emphasised enough. The COC and inspectorate process will be automated and online and must operate within a self-sustainable business model.” Manas explains that the ELPA mechanism allows for the random inspections of five percent of all COCs issued by ELPA-accredited installers. “In this way, we aim to effectively administer a live, updated register showcasing those with the requisite expertise and competency. We are currently testing the system and anticipate having it online by the end of this year.”
Once the system is live, Manas says that any member of the public will be able to log onto the ELPA website to check the register for accredited names. “It is important for members of the public to be able to check for competent, accredited installers who will be able to fill out a COC that you can trust. From the perspective of the insurance industry there is also a benefit – by using ELPA-accredited people, insurers are getting genuine certainty through proper compliance to best-practice safety standards. The inspections will ensure that the work is done properly and that all aspects are compliant to the standards ELPA has set out and which it follows.”
“ELPA has two key objectives aligned to its aim of being recognised as the National Professional Body for earthing and lightning protection. These are to effectively administer a live and updated expertise and competencies registrar among the industry professionals, and to monitor compliance to technical standards of lightning protection designs and installations through a professional industry lightning protection inspectorate. In this way, ELPA will assist authorised local and central government bodies and engineers with the enforcement of lightning protection compliance.
“Finally, it should be mentioned that for members to maintain their membership, we are also implementing a CPD programme. There are exciting plans in the pipeline and we look forward to moving ELPA from strength to strength in the quest to upskill and develop the entire industry,” Manas concludes.