Stories that Will Leave Our MarkFailsafe safety

Failsafe safety

Construction of the Loma 500-kilowatt substation, the first one we have built in this power range, fills our company with pride, because during its design and installation there were no work accidents.
  • Two workers bump their fists at infrastructure of outdoor operation.

    Loma Substation in Cesar

  • Operations infrastructure at night.

    Loma Substation in Cesar

  • Operations infrastructure at night.

    Loma Substation in Cesar

It was like a flash of lighting, an arc of light that whizzed as if someone had quickly pulled up a zipper. This sound, at 5:00 a.m. at dawn, was the sign that for nine months the 20 people who led the construction of the Loma 500-kilowatt substation had been waiting for: powering up of the complex that will improve service reliability in the region and that effectively links energy transmission between the Colombian Atlantic coast and the inland regions.

“There was not a single work accident, not even at the peak of construction when 200 workers were at the site,” said Óscar Ricardo de Lavalle Peñaloza, the Occupational Safety and Health professional who since the works began has been at the complex of transformers, cables and towers located on 3.3 hectares, on a plain a few meters away from the road that connects the center of the country to the Atlantic coast.

The achievement of zero accidents is even more significant considering that it is the first substation of this power range built by Grupo Energía Bogotá. The project is of major importance for Colombia, because in addition to its current functionalities, this location in central Cesar will be used to transport the electric power that will be produced by the seven wind farms being built in La Guajira, and it will be connected with a line from the Sogamoso Project. All this is to ensure that Colombians receive reliable service.

employees worked 300,000 man hours during construction of Loma 500-kilowatt substation. A major achievement: there were no work accidents.

De Lavalle Peñaloza highlights that the absence of accidents at Loma is a milestone, because it was not at all easy to build a project of this size at this geographic location, and because the project was delivered on schedule without any employee safety events.

“The personnel from this area are not familiar with the type of work involved in this project. Around here, people will tell you ‘I know how to operate a loading crane’, ‘I know how to load coal’ or ‘I can dig a 10-linear-meter ditch’; but none of them can say ‘I can set up a tower at a height of 34 meters’. Because of this, the employees need a lot of guidance on occupational safety and very close supervision, telling them ‘do it this way, not that way, and if you don’t look out something could happen to you, and instead of going home you will end up at a hospital’,” he explains.

Due to this lack of specific experience, GEB tightened all security measures, with a major contribution by specialized personnel in projects of this type, who traveled to the site from different places of the country and the world. Workers from Germany, India, Mexico, China, Malaysia, and of course Colombia, were involved in the construction works.

Rafael Daza Guzmán, an engineer from the Substations Department, recalls that during the project’s construction there were, on the one hand, critical tasks, and on the other, innovative experiences. For example, he recalls lifting and performing the electrical-mechanical assembly of equipment that weighs up to 70 tons and some civil works that required high levels of effort, concentration, attention and commitment from all those involved.

“Before starting any task, we held meetings and reviewed the manuals and the equipment, we went over the preventive measures, what could happen and all possible scenarios, and their respective precautions and warnings, as required by GEB’s protocols,” narrated Daza Guzmán.

The day when the Loma 500-kilowatt substation was scheduled to begin receiving electric energy, a group of employees, including De Lavalle and Daza, took a break at 3:00 a.m. and returned before 5:00 a.m. in order not to miss the first powering up.

That dawn had the smell of success. The silence of the warm and dark dawn was broken by the sound of power passing for the first time through the connectors between the substation’s transformers and the line, and then by the murmurs of joy, happiness and achievement by the group of workers.

These are the same sounds with that same milestone of zero work accidents, that GEB employees hope to hear in April 2021, when we expect to start up the Loma 110-kilowatt substation, which will contribute to strengthening the electric energy system in Cesar.