KANSAS CITY, MO ‒ Amid a national increase in workplace deaths by electrocution, OSHA urges employers to emphasize stronger electrical safety. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 3.75 percent increase – 166 workplace deaths related to electrocution – in 2019 over the previous year. From November 2018 through October 2021, OSHA investigated 12 electrical-related deaths in Missouri and Kansas.
Electrical Hazards Killed Four Workers In Midwest
Electrical hazards killed four workers in Missouri and Kansas within five months in 2021. Fatal accidents occurred in Missouri while a 40-year-old electrical contractor replaced light fixtures in Sedalia. On Sept. 23, a 22-year-old worker was killed when cleaning a Higbee pig barn with a pressure washer. Another tragic electrical accident happened in Wichita, Kansas when a 41-year-old worked with heating and air conditioning equipment. A month earlier, electrical hazards proved fatal to a 35-year-old electrical contractor while climbing a pole in Lawrence, Kansas. Their stories and circumstances may differ, but the cause of death is the same – electrocution.
While OSHA continues its investigations of these employer-reported deaths, the agency urges the Midwest employers to emphasize electrical safety practices.
“Recent tragedies in Missouri and Kansas are reminders of the danger of electrical exposures in the workplace. OSHA’s electrical standards are designed to protect employees from electric shock and electrocution,” said OSHA’s Acting Regional Administrator Billie Kizer in Kansas City, Missouri. “Employers should implement safety and health programs, and are required to train workers on identifying hazards and use required protective measures to ensure all employees end each workday safely,” he continued.
Hazard Recognition, Safety Audits, and Training Can Enhance Electrical Safety
Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales personnel, work with electricity indirectly but may also be exposed to electrical hazards.
Many workers are unaware of the potential electrical hazards present in their workplace, making them more vulnerable to electrocution. The following hazards are the most frequent causes of electrical injuries: contact with power lines, lack of ground-fault protection, the path to ground missing or discontinuous, equipment not used per manufacture specifications, and improper use of extension and flexible cords.
Employers may implement various solutions to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury associated with electrical work. Examples of solutions include the use of insulation, guarding, grounding, electrical protective devices, and safe work practices. It is recommended employers conduct periodic electrical safety inspections to identify potentially hazardous electrical situations and provide corrective actions. The electrical safety audit also helps determine safety compliance, electrical safety work processes, maintenance tools and identifies potential cost savings and inefficiencies.