Hidden Dangers for Electric Utility Workers

OSHA estimates 74 fatalities and 444 serious injuries occur annually for those workers involved in electrical utility work.  Utility line work is commonly quoted as one of the ten most dangerous jobs in the U.S.

Unexpected exposure to an arc flash event can cause serious burn injuries resulting in death.  While these events may not be commonplace, the potential injuries can be very serious and life altering.

Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard, exposing employees to electric shock, electrocution, burns, fires, and explosions. In 1999, for example, 278 workers died from electrocutions at work, accounting for almost 5 percent of all on-the-job fatalities that year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What makes these statistics more tragic is that most of these fatalities could have been easily avoided.

OSHA standards focus on the design and use of electrical equipment and systems. The standards cover only the exposed or operating elements of an electrical installation such as lighting, equipment, motors, machines, appliances, switches, controls, and enclosures, requiring that they be constructed and installed to minimize workplace electrical dangers.

Also, the standards require that certain approved testing organizations test and certify electrical equipment before use in the workplace to ensure it is safe.