The Hazards are Real Electrical Shocks
National Safety Council statistics show that electrical
injuries still occur in U.S. industry with alarming frequency:
▼ 30,000 non-fatal electrical shock accidents occur each year
▼ 1,000 fatalities due to electrocution occur each year
Recent studies also indicate that more than half of all
fatal electrocutions occurred during routine construction,
maintenance, cleaning, inspection, or painting activities
at industrial facilities.
Although electrical shock accidents are frequent and
electrocutions are the fourth leading cause of industrial
fatalities, few are aware of how little current is actually
required to cause severe injury or death. In this regard,
even the current required to light just a 7 1/2 watt, 120
volt lamp is enough to cause a fatality – if it passes across
a person’s chest.
Arc Flash and Arc Blasts
The arc flash and arc blasts that occur when short circuit
currents flow through the air are violent and deadly events.
▼ Temperatures shoot up dramatically, reaching
up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit and instantly
vaporizing surrounding components.
▼ Ionized gases, molten metal from vaporized
conductors and shrapnel from damaged equipment
explode through the air under enormous pressure.
Anyone or anything in the path of an arc flash or arc blast
is likely to be severely injured or damaged.
Statistics from the National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health indicate that five to 10 arc flash
explosions occur in electrical equipment every day in
the United States; these accidents send more than 2,000
workers to burn centers with severe injuries each year.2
It’s Your Responsibility and It’s the Law
As an official act of Congress, the Occupational Safety
and Health Act of 1970 is the law. Section 5(a) mandates
that each employer shall:
1. Furnish to each of his employees employment
and a place of employment which are free from
recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to
cause death or serious harm to his employees.
2. Comply with occupational safety and health standards
promulgated under the act.
One of the key OSHA regulations that employers must
comply with is 29 CFR 1910 ‘Occupational Safety &
Health Standards.’ These standards establish the legal
obligation requiring employers to proactively assess
workplace hazards and take appropriate actions to
advise and protect their employees from the hazards.
In situations where electrical injury has occurred,
OSHA uses compliance with NFPA 70E as a key test in
determining whether or not appropriate precautions
have been taken. If they have not been, the employer may
be subject to substantial fines and management personnel
may be held criminally liable.
The Costs of Electrical Accidents can be Enormous
When serious electrical accidents occur, the cost to a
business often exceeds $1 million, and the cost to the
injured person is immeasurable.
On average, OSHA issues 40,000 safety citations per year.
Penalties for serious violations may be tens or even
hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending upon the situation.
In addition to the financial impacts of legal and settlement
costs, the lost time and productivity disruptions caused by
personal injury lawsuits can be a significant burden.
Injury Costs OSHA Citations Lawsuits