In the United States, work-related electrical injuries lead to about 300 fatalities and 3,500 injuries every year.
Though they are not one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities and injuries, one in every 13 workplace electrical injuries is fatal. In this post, we will discuss some important facts about work-related electrical injuries.
Workplace related electrical injury statistics
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) –
- Electrical injuries are ranked 6th among all workplace-related fatality causes in the country.
- In the past 10 years, there were 46000 electrical workplace injuries caused by electrical workplace hazards.
- A worker sustains a severe electrical injury every 30 minutes in the US.
Types of electrical workplace injuries
Considering electrical workplace injuries, workers sustain a number of other types of injuries including electrocution. They are at risk of injuries such as burns, lacerations, hearing loss, etc. They are also exposed to the risks of injuries caused by an arc flash.
Arc Flash Injuries
An arc flash is a heat and light that is produced by an electric arc. An arc flash is supplied by electrical energy from the electric arc and emits a surge of heat and electric energy that can cause a fire, severely injure and damage everything around it. This occurs as electric arcs experience negative resistance that leads to a decrease in electrical resistance and raises the temperature of the arc.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics –
- About 2,000 workers sustain arc flash injuries and receive specialized treatments in burn centers.
- About 77 percent of all recorded electrical injuries in 2014 were arc flash injuries.
- 80 percent of arc flashes injuries and fatalities involve ‘qualified’ workers who are trained.
- Arc flash injuries are counted as burn injuries and not as electrical shock injuries which increases their true rates for compensation.
Cost of electrical and arc flash injuries
The overall cost of electrical and arc flash injuries borne by employers are considerably high. It involves costs of equipment damage, litigation as well as medical costs for injured employees. According to statistics –
- The monetary costs of electrical and arc flash injuries exceed $1 million per year including costs for insurance downtime of business and replacement of damaged equipment.
- Costs for workers sustaining severe burns due to electrical injuries and arc flash injuries can exceed $4 million per injured person.
- Businesses end up paying more than $30 million in litigation, fines, medical costs for injured employees, loss of business and damaged property.
Preventing electrical injuries
Considering the high cost of workplace-related electrical injuries for businesses and the hazards it poses for workers, the solution lies in preventing electrical accidents at the workplace. It is imperative that all employees, those handling electrical equipment as well as those engaged in non-electrical jobs be trained and educated in terms of electrical hazards, proper handling of electrical equipment, and the proper use of protective equipment.