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Electrical Injuries Toolbox Talk

Learn about common electrical injuries on the jobsite and how to avoid them.

Electrical Injuries Safety Talk

Every year thousands of workers are hurt or even fatally injured in construction site accidents. Construction workers and electrical contractors can sustain serious electrical injuries including burn injuries, thermal burns, and electrocution.

In the majority of workplaces including general industry, construction, and farming electrical hazards are present. It is crucial that you are able to recognize and identify the electrical hazards around you at work. If you are able to identify work-related hazards it will put you and your fellow coworkers at a lesser risk for injuries.

Electrical Hazards and Tips

Electrical hazards in the workplace are going to happen. The key is to be able to recognize the hazards and try to prevent the injuries.Some examples of hazards include:

  • Energized overhead power lines

  • Lightning

  • Working on energized equipment

  • Improper grounding

  • Damaged insulation

  • Defective equipment

  • Arcing accidents

  • Falls

Tips to Keep Electrical Injuries From Happening in the Workplace:

  • Always identify any electrical hazards before you start working. Make sure the hazards are labeled clearly so that others may also recognize them.

  • Always keep your equipment away from energy sources. Also, only use equipment that is made for the job at hand.

  • Use non-conductive ladders when you are climbing to keep from getting shocked at large heights. This can also help prevent falls.

  • Watch out for outlets that are hot to the touch. This could indicate bad wiring and could result in an electrical fire and injuries.

  • Never nail or staple extension cords into place. If you need to use anything use electrical tape. Damaged cords can also lead to electrical shock and fire so do not use cords that have been damaged. Make sure you inspect cords before each use.

  • Always wear the proper protective clothing and use insulated tools when around electrical hazards.

  • Be smart, if you see something that looks like it is a hazard be careful and report it to your supervisor.

Preventative measures often feel like overkill and you may think they are pointless but the truth is that you can never be too safe around electricity.

electrical box on construction site.

Electrical Injuries

Electrical injuries at work can occur in many ways. When a worker comes into contact with an exposed electric conductor or part of a circuit this can cause injury. The injuries can be heart problems. muscle spasms, loss of breath, and other things.

  • Burns - Electrical burns are the most common type of injury related to electric shock. They are caused by the heat produced by the flow of electric current through the body. Burns caused by electricity may cause damage to limbs, internal organs, and tissue. Extensive burns that cover over 40% of the body may cause severe infection or even death.

  • Arc Burns - The most common contact points for arc burns are the hand's feet and head. These burns may cause widespread tissue damage to an individual.

  • Internal Injuries - When you have excessive amounts of electricity moving through the body this can cause internal bleeding, tissue damage, nerve damage, muscle damage, irregular heartbeat, and even cardiac arrest.

  • Involuntary Muscle Contractions - An electrical shock can also cause loss of muscle control or involuntary muscle contractions. This can cause damage to muscles and ligaments.

  • Scarring and Disfigurement - Electrical burns may also cause extensive scarring and disfigurement and require multiple reconstructive surgeries.

Several Factors Can Affect How Serious the Injury From the Electric Shock is Including:

  • The intensity of the current

  • The type of current- alternating current or direct current

  • Which part of the body the current reaches

  • How long a person was exposed to a current

Types of Injuries From Contact

There are four major types of electrical injuries: flash, flame, lightning, and true.

  • Flash injuries are caused by an arc flash and are typically associated with superficial burns. No electrical current travels past the skin.

  • Flame injuries occur when an arc flash ignites an individual's clothing and the current may or may not pass through the skin.

  • Lightning injuries are those involving extremely short but very high voltage electrical energy and are associated with an electrical current flowing through the entire body.

  • True electrical injuries involve an individual becoming part of the electrical current. In these cases, it is common to see the entrance and exit points.

What To Do

If you see a safety hazard you should always alert other workers around you. You should then quickly notify your supervisor so the hazard can be taken care of. Remember it is better to be safe than sorry when dealing with electricity.

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