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Occupational electrocutions: investigation and prevention.

Casini VJ
Prof Saf 1993 Jan; 38(1):34-39
Investigating and preventing occupational electrocutions were discussed. Epidemiological studies have shown that approximately 67% of all electrocutions are work related. The NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatality database indicates that approximately 7% of the nearly 6500 work related traumatic fatalities that occur annually are electrocutions. The results of an analysis of electrocutions investigated by NIOSH between November 1982 and December 1990 through its Fatal Accident Circumstances and Epidemiology (FACE) project were discussed. Of the 217 electrocutions investigated, 60 resulted from direct contact with an energized powerline, 40 from contact of a boomed vehicle with an energized powerline, 43 from contact of conductive equipment with an energized powerline, 38 from contact with energized equipment, and 36 from improperly installed or damaged equipment. In 71 accidents, no safety program or established written safe work procedures existed. Job classifications in which more than half of the electrocutions occurred were laborer, lineman, electrician, and painter. The largest proportion of electrocutions, 36%, occurred in companies with fewer than 50 employees. Common factors identified in the accidents included lack of enforcement of existing policies about use of personal protective equipment and lack of supervisory intervention in cases where existing safety policies were violated. Approximately 99% of the electrocutions involved alternating current (AC); about 33% of these accidents involved voltages of 600 volts (V) or less and 67% involved voltages greater than 600V. The author concludes that most of the investigated electrocutions could have been prevented through compliance with existing OSHA, National Electrical Code (NEC), and National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) regulations. Recommendations include development and implementation of comprehensive safety programs, ensured compliance with OSHA, NEC, and NESC regulations and safe work procedures, and provision of appropriate training and personal protective equipment.
NIOSH-Author; Electrical-workers; Electrical-hazards; Accident-analysis; Occupational-accidents; Accident-prevention; Industrial-safety;
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Professional Safety
Page last reviewed: February 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division