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Preventing electrical accidents on the job

Countless Minnesota employees wake up to a work day that revolves around electricity. A crucial part of today's world, the use of electricity has become second-nature for most Americans. Despite this familiarity, electrical accidents are common, and can result in severe injuries and even death. What is the root cause of most electrical accidents, and what can employees who work with this powerful form of energy do to prevent mishaps?

The Electrical Safety Foundation International, an organization that promotes electrical safety in the workplace, provides statistical data on electrical accidents in the U.S. from 2003 to 2010. According to the ESFI, there was a total of 42,882 fatal electrical accidents that occurred between these years, with the construction industry having the highest reported number of accidents. 1,738 of these these 42,882 fatal incidents involved contact with electrical current. The ESFI also shares that five occupations within the construction industry experienced 32 percent of these accidents: construction laborers, painters, roofers, electricians and carpenters.

It is clear that the field of construction work sees a great deal of injuries affiliated with the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration points out that employees who work with electricity must be protected in order to work near any electrical power circuit. When it comes to the most common hazards, OSHA states that the following are the biggest threats:

  • Lack of ground-fault protection
  • Improper use of equipment
  • Contact with power lines
  • Improper use of flexible and extension cords   

When there is no ground-fault protection, or when an employee does not use equipment properly, OSHA warns the public that the ground-fault can then send electrical currents through a person's body. Contact with power lines and improper use of cords can also result in injury or death. In addition to on-the-job training, employees may look to further safety tips provided by OSHA to ensure each shift is a safe one.  


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