September 24, 2017

Earthing and Lightning Protection Association (ELPA) kicks off first certification cycle in South Africa

Two association executives, Alexis Barwise and Prof. Ian Jandrell

The recently launched Earthing and Lighting Protection Association (ELPA), created to protect consumers, establish a uniform interpretation of the codes of practice, and help to regulate and advise the lightning protection industry, has announced that the first set of ELPA examinations is set to commence in August 2017.

South Africa has over 24 million lightning strikes every year, bringing with this more than 500 lightning-associated deaths annually and a cost to the economy running into billions of Rands. The formation of ELPA has therefore been widely welcomed by numerous engineers, associations, universities, government bodies, insurance bodies and the general public.

ELPA is also helping to take South Africa’s prominence in the global lightning protection arena another step forward, says National Director, Trevor Manas. He says, “It is ELPA’s stated intention to co-ordinate the dissemination of knowledge for lightning industry practitioners, consumers and the general public; communicate holistically around the potentially deadly dangers presented by lightning; and assist with advice on over-arching legislation to guide all concerned parties.

“With the very real danger not only of significant damage to property but also the loss of life, there is a serious need to upskill those who carry out lightning protection installations, so that they understand the science behind what they are doing. Working with ELPA-approved designs for lighting protection systems (LPS) as well as ELPA-accredited installers brings with it real benefits that will have a widespread positive effect for the lightning protection industry, consumers and even the insurance industry,” he states.

Manas clarifies that ELPA intends to play a role in improving the technical competency within the industry, in particular that of installers, designers and assessors. He adds, “Our plans to assist with certification and compliance will be united under one umbrella body that brings together experts and interested parties from various areas of the lightning protection arena.”

The benefits of using ELPA-accredited designs and installers include the following:

  • ELPA offers an approval service for LPS design drawings.
  • All ELPA-accredited installers are properly trained and have passed the ELPA examination with at least an 80 percent pass mark.
  • ELPA carries out random inspections of LPS installations by accredited ELPA inspectors.
  • ELPA offers a guarantee of all installations carried out by accredited installers such that, if sub-standard workmanship or non-compliant installations are found, the association will fix the LPS installation to comply with the standards.
  • ELPA offers independent evaluation of installations and designs, whether these installations or designs are completed by members or not.
  • ELPA will provide the details of ELPA-accredited designers, installers and assessors to engineers or any other interested person on request.

Manas explains that there are three different types of ELPA memberships, namely:

  • Ordinary: These are members who will be accredited as installers, designers and inspectors / assessors.
  • Engineering / Associate Members:  These members are engineers and would have access to technical assistance from our team of experts.
  • Affiliate Members: This is the manufacturer’s membership; affiliate companies would be on the ELPA list of preferred / approved compliant component suppliers.

“An ELPA guarantee on LPS work will assist the insurance industry, in that we will commit to fixing sub-standard work at our cost if an installation that was guaranteed by ELPA is later found to be non-compliant. In this way, using an ELPA-certified installer would provide peace of mind, as will the guarantees the association provides on a design, even before installation.

“We encourage all those who would like to be trained and accredited to contact ELPA for our training facilitators. The formal establishment of ELPA is an important addition to the standard of safety in the South African lightning and protection industry, and we look forward to this significant first set of examinations and also moving on thereafter,” Manas concludes.

For more information, visit www.elpasa.org.za.

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