It’s been reported by Electrical Safety Foundation International that there are over 400 electrocutions in the United States each year.

Of these, approximately 180 are related to consumer products. 10% of those were cause by large appliances. In the workplace, the National Safety Council indicates that electrical hazards cause nearly one workplace fatality every day.

  • Electrical hazards are listed as the cause of approximately 4,000 injuries annually.
  • Electrical incidents are far more likely to be fatal.
  • Electricity ranks sixth among all causes of occupational injury in the United States.
  • Electricity is the cause of more than 140,000 fires each year, resulting in 400 deaths, 4,000 injuries and $1.6 billion in property damage.
  • Total economic losses due to electrical hazards are estimated to exceed $4 billion annually.

In the workplace, Electrical Safety is especially important. Some workers are exposed to much more powerful electrical sources than at home. The dangers are compounded when procedures are not followed and the proper Personal Protective Equipment is not used.

Once specific area that needs focused attention is guarding against arc flash. An arc flash is the light and heat produced from an electric arc supplied with sufficient electrical energy to cause substantial damage, harm, fire, or injury. Electrical arcs experience negative resistance, which causes the electrical resistance to decrease as the arc temperature increases.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  • Arc flash injuries are not counted in the Electrical shock statistics (they are noted under burns), meaning that the true rates are even higher;
  • 2,000 workers are treated in specialized burn trauma centers each year as a result of arc flash injuries;
  • Every 30 minutes a worker suffers an electrical injury that requires time off;

What this means to the employer in terms of cost

  • Equipment, Litigation, & Medical Cost Associated with Electrical Hazards
  • Monetary cost can easily exceed $1 million, which includes the costs of equipment replacement, downtime, and insurance
  • Medical costs for severe electrical burns can exceed $4 million per person
  • Work-related injuries can cost businesses well over $30 million in fines, medical costs, litigation, lost business and equipment costs

Morale Impact Associated with Electrical Hazard

  • About 80% of electrically related accidents and fatalities involving “Qualified Workers” are caused by arc flash / arc blast. Even trained experts get hurt!
  • 21% of electrical injuries (including arc flash) tended to be permanent.
  • U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics determined arc flash injuries accounted for 77% of all recorded electrical injuries.

Training and the use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial in protecting employees from injury. Training should cover the care and use of the PPE, giving the qualified worker the empowerment to make life safety decisions.  A good rule of thumb for Arc Flash protection is to use PPE that has an arc rating equal to or greater than the calculated incident energy.

Machines are prone to issues and unpredictability. Common sense tells us that workers need to wear protective gear when working in close proximity to potentially dangerous electrical equipment. Why then is it that many workers (even very qualified and experienced ones) aren’t more vigilant in donning PPE. We’ve heard the excuses that they feel that PPE slows them down and that they think the repair will be quicker without. Don’t allow your employees to spend the rest of their lives regretting that decision.

OSHA is very specific on employer and employee responsibilities when it comes to electrical hazards and PPE.

1910.335(a)(1)(i): Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall be provided with and shall use electrical protective equipment that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed.

1910.335(a)(1)(v): Employees shall wear protective equipment for the eyes or face wherever there is a danger of injury to the eyes or face from electric arcs or flashes or from flying objects resulting from electrical explosion.

Arbill is ready to assist you with any and all facets of your arc flash program. We not only supply all classes of Electrical Gloves and PPE that can help reduce the injuries sustained from arc flash, we also offer services including Electrical Safety Assessments, NFPA 70E audits and all related signage, labeling and documentation. Contact Arbill to learn how to reduce workplace injuries.