An employee of the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C) was lucky to have survived a near death experience when he was electrocuted during a job at Faleata about three weeks ago.
Peni Lafoaina, 44 years old, lost his left arm while they were carrying out work at the Faleata Solar Farm.
The father of three vaguely remembers what happened on that day, 4th May 2016.
“I can’t remember much of what happened,” the Linesman told the Samoa Observer.
“As far back as my memory can recall there were three of us working on the electric poles around 2 o’clock that morning.
“I was up on the electric pole and had my belt strapped around me and all I can remember is working on the pole. I don’t know how it happened I just woke up and found myself on a hospital bed.”
According to the employee, work at the poles had to be done early in the morning as it’s the only time where the power can be switched off in the area when no one is using electricity.
He said there is no other explanation about how he got electrocuted other than that there was an active line.
“We’ve been working there from 2 o’clock and the incident happened around 4 in the morning,” said the father.
“I don’t know clearly what happened but I suspect that all the lines weren’t switched off completely. I got electrocuted and as you can see I have lost my arm, my upper body got burnt…I’m lucky to be alive.”
Mr. Lafoaina’s condition was so critical he has remained at the Motootua hospital for nearly three weeks.
Although he would’ve wanted to keep his left arm but he had no choice but to have it removed as it was causing him “sleepless nights and so much pain”.
“My left arm was basically toasted,” he said.
“Even if I still wanted it intact it would be of no use and the pain would’ve been unbearable.”
Now that he has lost his arm, the father of three is worried about the future. “What can I do with one arm?” he said. “I don’t think I can go back to my work like this. The only option for me is to stay home and find a business that would want me to pick up their rubbish so I can make use of my other arm.
“I have worked at E.P.C. for ten years and my family depends on my work to feed my children and contribute to church donations…it’s a different story now.”
The father from the village of Nu’u said he is still waiting to hear from E.P.C. about his future. He added the Corporation had visited him the first week he was at hospital and took his medical report with them.
Questions sent to E.P.C. General Manager, Tologata Tile Tuimaleali’ifano about Mr. Lafoaina’s case were not responded to by press time. Two weeks ago a letter to the editor raised concerns about the incident.
In the letter the writer questioned, why wasn’t the Distribution Manager of Vaitele or an Electrical Engineer present in supervising the incident involving the linesman electrocuted while working on High voltage works carried out at the recent solar farm at Faleata before it was commissioned and handed over.
“Not only was he working on high voltage lines still active and energized but also without safety wear and boots,” said the writer.
“High voltage as in kilovolts (Example: 6,600volts, 22,000volts or 33,000volts etc).”