Prevention of Electrocution Injury

NIOSH described a series of 224 fatal electrocution incidents from 1982 to 1994 and noted that at least one of five factors was present for all cases. These included:

1. Failure to follow safe work procedures

2. Failure to use required personal protective equipment

3. Failure to follow lock-out/tag-out procedures

4. Failure to comply with existing OSHA, or recognized electrical safety code regulations

5. Inadequate safety training (10).

Prevention of electrical injury requires involvement by employers and employees. Electrical equipment should be inspected for safety and proper grounding on a periodic basis. This is especially important for equipment used for water or wet circumstances, such as pumps. Failsafe mechanisms that automatically shut off power to machinery when casings are opened should be incorporated in the design and not defeated by the operator. Workers should be certain that power is shut off before beginning maintenance work on electrical equipment. Electrical hand tools should be in good repair and properly grounded with a three-wire electrical system or have doubly insulated casings. Ground-fault circuit interrupters, which halt current flow when current to ground is detected (e.g., through the body of the tool operator), add further protection. Workers should wear dry gloves when operating electrical machinery, especially hand tools such as drills and sanders. In some settings, rubber insulated gloves are appropriate. Grain augers should be in the lowered position when moving to prevent contact with overhead highvoltage wires. Metal ladders should not be used in areas where there is a risk of contact with power lines. Request that the power company de-energize lines, if feasible, where there is risk of contact (6).

A comprehensive description of electrical safety regulations and recommendations is available in Subpart S 29 CFR 1910.302 through 1910.399 of the General Industry Safety and Health Standards. Subpart K of 29 CFR 1926.402 through 1926.408 of the OSHA construction safety and health standards address electrical equipment and installations used to provide electric power and light at the jobsite. The United States National Electric Code and National Electrical Safety Code comprehensively address electrical safety regulations. Most other countries have similar codes (11,12).

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