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Richard Evert ELPA national director

South Africa’s Earthing and Lightning Protection Association (ELPA) has a new national director, Richard Evert, replacing the outgoing Trevor Manas.

The outgoing national director was elected at the organisation’s official launch in June 2017, while at the same time, Evert was elected to represent Eskom, one of the ELPA affiliates, on the board.

Evert, who officially took office as national director on 1 June, served Eskom for 28 years in the capacity of senior research consulting engineer and specialised in power system lightning performance management over the last 13 years.

“Having already been associated with ELPA as a board member since inception, I am looking forward to taking on this new role as national director. Trevor and I have established a solid working relationship and we share the same goals in moving ELPA forward as South Africa’s national professional body for the lightning protection industry," stated Evert.

He added: "Our motto – certainty through compliance – supports the overall goal of protecting lives and property from the potentially deadly effects of this awe-inspiring yet potentially deadly natural phenomenon."

Handing over the reigns, Manas said: “I remain committed to the well-being and goals of ELPA and will continue to remain active within the association, assisting Richard where required, and also managing and adjudicating the lightning protection designer accreditation course. I thank the board, the national executive committee and all ELPA members for their help and support in creating an association that is already making a substantial difference in our industry.”

Advancing lightning risk knowledge

The new national director acknowledged the need for collaboration, stating: “We are acutely aware of the importance of facilitating the relationships between the industry’s service providers, and service providers and end-users, as well as advancing lightning risk knowledge in communities, developing skills through our tertiary education institutions, escalating our continental support infrastructure and building weather tracking capacity."

He added: "Our recent participation in the annual ULPA/LPI conference in the United States has given us food for thought, including assessing more sustainable business models and proactive standard operating procedures to support and strengthen the industry. Lightning protection technology and its installation is a specialised discipline, and we will endeavour to build ELPA towards a national all-encompassing body for South Africans.

“It is imperative that we do not under-estimate the damage done by lightning and the concealed nature of the transfer of electricity and charge. The danger lies in our complacency and short-term cost cutting. Insurance companies bear the brunt of the asset and property losses and families bear the brunt of human losses.

"It is ELPA’s goal to oversee the reduction in fatalities and loss of property in South Africa. To achieve that we need the support of the entire South African community. It is my intention to mobilise all able bodies to that end,” he concluded.