By: Abbie Geigle
When you walk onto a worksite, there is a large chance you will see electricity-powered tools and light fixtures. Electricity could be running overhead in powerlines or flowing through underground cables. Electricity is such a huge part of daily life on a worksite and it is easy to forget this commonplace utility is also a serious workplace hazard.
It takes very little electrical current to seriously injure or even kill a worker. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), direct contact with a circuit can cause less than one AMP of electricity (less than the current through a 100-watt lightbulb) to pass through the human body can cause a worker to stop breathing. Direct contact with a live 15-amp circuit can result in death. This circuit is equivalent to a standard household outlet.
An electrical hazard is a dangerous condition where a worker could make electrical contact with energized equipment and sustain an injury from shock and/or from an arc flash burn, thermal burn, or blast injury.
Electricity finds the easiest and shortest paths to the ground. When people or objects come to close to or touch an electrical wire, they can become part of an electrical circuit. The amount of current that flows through the body is determined by the human body resistance. The lesser the body resistance, the higher the current that flows through the body. This increases the risk of a fatal electrical shock or severe burns.For more information on how to protect yourself from electrical injuries, check out OSHAcademy course 115 Electrical Safety for Employees: Basic.