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Can Your Business Afford Electrical Accidents?

Julie Copeland

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Every year in the United States, workplace electrical incidents result in more than 300Are you protecting your workers from electrical hazards? deaths and 3,500 injuries.  While electrical hazards are not the leading cause of on-the-job injuries and fatalities, they are disproportionately fatal and costly.  For every 13 electrical injuries – a worker dies.  Most of these electrical related fatalities and injuries could be prevented.  Awareness of workplace electrical hazards and knowledge of best practices are critical to reducing these staggering statistics.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains statistics regarding electrical fatalities and injuries. The latest electrical related statistics are as follows:

  • Electrical Hazards cause more than 300 deaths and 4000 injuries in the workplace each year.

  • Electrical accidents rank 6th among all causes of work related deaths in the US.

  • Electrical accidents on the job cause an average of 13 days away from work and nearly one fatality every day.

  • Over the past decade, 46,000 workers were injured from on the job electrical hazards.

  • During the workday, a worker is severely hurt every 30 minutes from electricity to the point time off from the job is required.

Injuries from electrical hazards are not just limited to electrocution; they include burns, hearing loss, lacerations and other health issues.  

  • Electric Shock

    • Electric current through body – electrocution/burns 

    • Arc Flash

      • Burns due to high heat and molten metal

      • Fire ignition

      • Arc Blast

        • Hearing loss due to blast explosion

        • Lacerations/punctures from blast debris

        • Percussion force

        • Explosion

Most electrical accidents result from one of the following and can be prevented.  Click here for an OSHA Quick Tips Card on Electrical Safety.  

  • Unsafe equipment installation

  • Unsafe environment

  • Unsafe work practices and procedures

Where are these injuries happening?

Even knowing these statistics we tend to overlook the hazards electricity poses in the workplace. These hazards affect not only the electrician but the worker, the CEO, the manager and the office worker regardless  of whether they work with electricity directly or indirectly.   

Those most at risk include maintenance staff, those working with electrical plant, equipment and machinery, and people working in harsh environments such as construction sites however, electrical risks affect everyone.  



The federal government, through the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all employees who face a risk of electric shock that is not reduced to a safe level by the electrical installation requirements of standard 1910.303 through 1910.308 must be trained. 


Training …  

The OSHA standard 1910.332 requires that information and training includes the following:  

  • Practices addressed in this standard. Employees shall be trained in and familiar with the safety-related work practices required by §§ 1910.331 through 1910.335 that pertain to their respective job assignments.

  • Additional requirements for unqualified persons. Employees who are covered by paragraph (a) of this section but who are not qualified persons shall also be trained in and familiar with any electrically related safety practices not specifically addressed by §§ 1910.331 through 1910.335 but which are necessary for their safety.

  • Additional requirements for qualified persons. Qualified persons (i.e., those permitted to work on or near exposed energized parts) shall, at a minimum, be trained in and familiar with the following:

    • The skills and techniques necessary to distinguish exposed live parts from other parts of electric equipment,

    • The skills and techniques necessary to determine the nominal voltage of exposed live parts, and

    • The clearance distances specified in § 1910.333(c) and the corresponding voltages to which the qualified person will be exposed.

 What’s at stake?

  • In July 2010 The US Department of Labor’s OSHA cited The US Post Office for a multitude of electrical violations at numerous locations.  The citations included the lack of adequate training on safety related work practices pertinent to the tasks the employees performed.  The proposed fines for the lack of adequate training alone at one location was $140,000.  The total proposed fine for all electrical violations at this one location was $231,000.00

OSHA fines plus the cost of worker’s compensation, cost of days lost, employee morale etc. VS Cost of having an EH&S professional do Electrical Safety training for 10 employees <$2,000.00.  

Look for more information on creating a culture of safety within your organization on our Arbill Blog. Today’s article is: 

Don’t be shocked by this…

Have a safe day!




Topics: Electrical Safety/LOTO

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