A Shocking Reality: Electrical Injuries in the Workplace

Main types of electrical injuries
Electrical injuries can lead to a wide range of serious injuries and even death. This enigmatic force is capable of delivering awesome power in the blink of an eye. Although fatal electric injuries are a relatively uncommon event, it happens every year to several hundred people. Notably, the vast majority of these occur in the workplace. Some professions are associated with a higher risk of suffering an electrical injury. Read on to learn more about the main types of electrical injuries, statistics, and safety tips.

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A Primer on Electric Injury

Electricity is capable of generating incredible power. Our lifestyle depends on it.

Despite this, many of us don’t even consider how it all works. We tend to only think about it when the power goes out or somebody suffers an injury.

Electrons in Motions

Electricity is generated when electrons move through a conductive material, such as a copper wire. The laws of physics dictate the electrons will flow from an area of high concentration to low concentration.

The size of the gradient is directly proportional to the power of the current.

Most electronics in your home use several hundred watts. A lightning bolt delivers about 10,000,000,000 (ten billion) watts in the blink of an eye.

Electrical Injuries by the Numbers

At least 30,000 people suffer an injury from electrocution every year. In fact, they account for five percent of all burn unit admissions.

In the US alone, there are about 1000 deaths from electric shock every year.

If you suffered an electrical injury at work, you may be entitled to compensations. Know who to call to ensure you are made whole.

Possible Sources of Danger

Electricity is all around us. Whether we are at home, at work, or traveling, there is likely to be an electrical current in the immediate vicinity.

Here are some of the most likely sources of electric shock.

Live Wires, Cords, and Outlets

Electric cords can often lead to accidental shocks. Older and damaged cords increase the risk of danger, especially when an outlet or extension cord is overloaded with connections.

Cable management is extremely important. Never plug too many cords into the same outlet or extension. Rember, that of course, water and electricity do not mix.

Furthermore, high-tension cables can deliver massive amounts of electricity.

Electric Appliances

Appliances and other electronics are potential sources of electric injury. Think twice before touching any object that could deliver a shock.

Whether dealing with a computer or food processor, there is always a certain risk of injury.

Lightning

Lighting is the most beautiful yet deadliest form of electricity. A single lightning bolt can deliver one billion volts in microseconds.

Generally, lightning is more likely to strike in places with higher elevations and open fields. People working in trees or on roofs are at particular risk.

Also, fishermen and other people working in and around water are at increased risk. It is important to stop working and find shelter in case of a lightning storm.

Jobs with the Highest Risk of Electrical Injuries

In today’s modern world, virtually anyone is potentially at risk to suffer an electric injury, even if working from home.

Certain professions come with the expected risk of electrocution. For example, electricians working on wires are (hopefully) well aware of the danger. However, some people may be at a higher risk of injury without even being aware.

Construction Workers

Constructions workers represent the majority of workplace electric injuries. There are many different jobs that fall under this category and could potentially lead to electric shock.

Given the variety of work, it can’t always be expected that the worker has extensive knowledge of electric wiring. Employers must take steps to ensure their workers know to take the necessary measure to lower the risk of injury.

Installation and Maintenance Worker

People that work with electric appliances are at risk, particular at the hour of installing them and working on damaged units.

They often require to open electrical appliances in order to get the electrical inner workings. It is here that there is a high risk of electricity.

Mechanics are also at an increased risk of injury from the energy generated by the car’s battery.

Electricians and Powerlines Workers

Not surprisingly, people who work with and around electric cables are at an increased risk to get shocked.

Home electricians often have to work with old, damaged connections in houses under variable conditions. Despite them having a good understanding of the danger, accidents do occur.

Powerline workers are often at even higher risk. The amount of power that can be transmitted from coming in contact with a high-tension wire is enormous. Plus, working from a height puts them at risk of a fall.

Arborists

Arborists (or tree surgeons) and other people who work with trees often have to work around or near power lines. Furthermore, the danger is compounded by the risk of falls.

Even without the risk of electricity, arborists have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Anyone working with trees should use extreme caution.

Danger at the Desk

Although you might not equate the office with electric shock, a number of accidental electrocutions happen in these settings.

This is because of the constant use of electric appliances. Improper wiring and use of circuits increase the danger.

Kitchens and Restaurants

Unless your kitchen cooks everything using a wood oven, you are likely using electrical appliances constantly. This can put you at risk of electrocution if you’re not careful.

However, many kitchens can be slightly hectic environments, with multiple people working together in a small area. Not to mention, one has to work sharp knives, hot objects, and slippery surfaces.

Safe practices in the kitchen include proper communication and reasonable workloads.

First Aid for Electrical Injuries

You are a first responder or have a high-risk job. However, there is always a chance that you might witness someone experiencing an electrical injury.

Here are steps you can take after someone has been electrocuted that can save a life.

1. Alert Emergency Services 

Electrical injury is a life-threatening emergency. Even if the person is still awake and walking about, they could have suffered a serious internal injury.

Some people will require immediate transfer to an intensive care unit. The first step is to call 911 as soon as possible so that transportation can be secured.

2. Assess the Scene

Upon arrival at the scene, look around and evaluate the surroundings. It is your responsibility not to expose yourself to unnecessary danger.

Try and determine the source of electricity. Electrical fires can occur and pose a serious threat to anyone in the area.

Is there any spilled liquid? Water is a great conductor of electricity. Stay well clear of the area if your safety can not be guaranteed.

3. Shut Off the Power Source

If safe to do so, you must turn off the power source or otherwise remove the electric current. There may still be a live current running through the person’s body.

Do not touch the victim, metal objects, or nearby water if you aren’t sure it is safe to do so.

4. Evaluating the Patient

Electric shock can cause a wide range of injuries. Sometimes, the patient will suffer a burn injury on the skin with or without damage to internal organs.

Oftentimes, the severity of the damage to the skin is not indicative of internal damage. So, a patient that looks OK might actually have severe organ injury.

Furthermore, take into consideration that the patient may have suffered a fall after getting shocked. Do not move the patient if they may have suffered a spinal injury.

5. ABCs

As always, you should evaluate the ABCs once you’re on the scene. Is the patient breathing? Do they have a heartbeat?

After you quickly check the vital signs, perform CPR right away if required and safe to do so. Consider using a defibrillator.

6. Supportive Treatment

Depending on the severity of the injury, the patient will require supportive treatment. They will likely be in considerable pain, administer analgesics to make them more comfortable and prevent agitation.

Any burn should be treated much like any other burn. Apply antibiotic ointment and dressings as necessary.

Hospital treatment, such as intravenous fluid may be required.

Preventing Workplace Fatalities

Ensuring worker safety requires the cooperation of each and every member of the team. The first step to preventing injury is being informed and aware of the danger.

The risk of electrical injuries is ever-present. If electrical safety is not something that is discussed at your place of work, you should start the conversation.

If you or our loved one suffered an electrical injury at work, you need to seek medical attention right away.

Call 1-800-897-8440 to find an experienced workers’ compensation doctor near you and get on your way to recovery.

 

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