This piece was originally published in the May 2017 issue of electroindustry.
Brett Brenner, President, ESFI
According to a new report released by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), the annual incidence of workplace electrical fatalities continues to decline, while nonfatal electrical injuries sharply increased in 2015. Compiled by ESFI, the “Workplace Electrical Injuries and Fatalities Report” examines data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) from 2003 to 2015.
The 134 electrical fatalities that occurred in 2015 resumed the long-term trend of annual reduced electrical fatalities after 2014’s increase over 2013. Electrocutions made up the vast majority of electrical fatalities, while electrical burns were responsible for four fatalities. In 2015, 60 percent of all fatal electrical injuries occurred in the construction industry.
Construction remained the leading source of fatal electrical injuries with 81, more than four times the contribution of the second-highest source, professional and business services. From 2011 to 2015, workers in the 25-to-34 age group experienced electrical fatalities at one and a half to two times the average for all age groups.
Meanwhile, the incidence of nonfatal electrical injuries did not see the same downward trend.
Nonfatal electrical injuries resulting in days away from work rose by one third in 2015 over 2014 to 2,480, the highest level since 2009. The median number of days away from work for nonfatal electrical injuries was five.
Although more electrical burn injuries than electric shock injuries occurred in the construction industry from 2003 to 2015, that gap is beginning to narrow. Construction saw more electric shock injuries than electrical burn injuries in 2010, 2013, and 2015. In fact, three times more electric shock injuries than electrical burn injuries occurred in 2015.
The utility industry continues to see more electrical burn injuries than electric shock injuries each year, except for 2015 when their numbers were approximately equal.
While the downward trend of electrical fatalities shows heightened awareness of electrical safety practices, even one preventable electrical fatality is too many. These fatalities, along with the recent increase of nonfatal electrical injuries, emphasize the importance of adherence to the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® requirements for safe work practices.
May is National Electrical Safety Month. Make sure safety is the top priority in your workplace and that your employees have the proper training and resources to maintain a zero-tolerance policy regarding electrical injuries and fatalities.
Visit www.esfi.org to learn more about electrical safety in the workplace.