Electricity + Control

From designers through to installers and inspectors of lightning protection systems (LPSs), as well as electricians and electrical engineers, the Earthing and Lightning Protection Association (ELPA) is ensuring that it implements all programmes necessary in its quest to become South Africa’s recognised National Professional Body for earthing and lightning protection. ELPA national director Trevor Manas clarifies, “ELPA aims to assist with providing industry accreditations, certification, benchmarks for quality of design and installation, as well as information and education on lightning safety.” Having been officially established in June 2017, after two years of hard work by lightning protection industry experts from around the country, Manas says the umbrella body has already notched up a number of achievements.

First ELPA exam Trevor Manas with successful candidateELPA national director, Trevor Manas, with a successful candidate.

Certification exams for lightning protection installers, surge protection installations and lightning protection design

“During 2017, we held two successful sets of certification exams for lightning protection installers,” Manas outlines. “In January 2018, we followed this up with the introduction of accreditations for electricians who carry out surge protection installations. This new programme covers the proper selection, coordination and installation of surge protection devices (SPDs) to power supply systems, and we believe that electricians will gain extremely valuable guidance in this part of their scope of works.

“At the same time, we launched our first designers’ accreditations, noting that the actual science of lightning protection really comes together in the lightning protection design. The designers’ course will follow a modular process: there are five parts to each module, and each module will take a month to complete.”

More to come through the COC programme

Other certification exams will follow in the first quarter of 2018, and are linked to the launch of the ELPA Certificates of Compliance (COC) programme in late 2017. Manas explains, “The COC programme is aimed at ELPA-accredited designers, installers and inspectors of LPSs. It entails the keeping of a register of designers and installers, as well as the inspectorate whose members check the work being done by the installers. To this end, another round of lightning protection installation certification exams took place in January, marking the third such set of exams since August 2017. We will also hold our first course for testers/assessors within the first quarter of the year.”

Moving matters online

Noting that much of South Africa is subject to high lightning ground flash density, with a consequent wide-ranging need for the installation of LPSs, ELPA is making use of online facilities for some of its courses.

ELPA geared to empower industry specialists


Image credit: https://www.liveline.co.za/gfd.php

Manas says, “In a bid to nationalise our courses, we are introducing some online assessments, starting with the installation accreditation, which currently takes the form of a 90-minute written exam, followed by a face to face interview with the examiners while still on-site. We are now offering candidates an online examination, and then carrying out Skype interviews with them post exam. In this way, we can accommodate the substantial number of candidates from around South Africa who want to take our ELPA installation exam.”

CPD programme to boost electrical engineers in the science of lightning

Over and above the LPS certification exams for designers, installers and inspectors, ELPA plans to spread its net wider still. “In order for participants to maintain their membership, we will be implementing a CPD programme,” says Manas. “We envisage an online element here too, and are exploring the use of webinars as a platform for the necessary learning to take place. ELPA is offering electrical engineers a 50% discount on a 2-point CPD accredited lightning protection seminar when they join the association in January or February 2018. This would be extremely valuable to all electrical engineers, as lightning protection is not a subject included in an electrical engineering degree and is normally only offered as part of a post-graduate high voltage study programme.”

Moving at the speed of light(ning)!

“It is tremendously satisfying to see ELPA, while technically still in its infancy as such a newly established organisation, already moving so quickly in our quest to achieve certainty through certification and compliance. I believe that, in the pursuit of becoming the recognised National Professional Body for earthing and lightning protection, it bodes well for the rest of 2018 that we are getting off to such a solid start,” Manas concludes. ELPA is supported by various institutions such as Wits University, the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa (ECA) and the Department of Labour.

Enquiries: Email info@ elpasa.org.za

Visit www.elpasa.org.za

 
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