Contrary to widespread belief, electrical injuries and fatalities among U.S. workers are not on the decline. The annual electrical safety survey conducted by Littelfuse Inc. reveals that almost all respondents had witnessed someone working on or near energized equipment of more than 50 V. Over 50 V puts people at risk for electrical shock and electrocution.

The survey of over 400 people whose job is either involved in safety or work directly with electricity tried to understand the rationale behind why electrical workers often take unsafe actions. It also uncovered the challenges safety professionals and consultants experience when trying to keep these workers safe.A hierarchy of controls pyramid. Source: Littelfuse Inc.A hierarchy of controls pyramid. Source: Littelfuse Inc.

“There are too many worker injuries and fatalities each year due to electrical shock, and we must do a better job preventing these incidents,” said Peter Kim, vice president and general manager, Littelfuse industrial business unit. “Developing an awareness of how and why these incidents occur is the first step and then advocating for safety by design — using engineering controls such as ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) — is the best way to keep workers safe.”

Download the report to glean Littelfuse survey findings such as:

  • 93% stated that they witnessed someone working on or near energized equipment of more than 50 V and one-third stated the equipment was not considered “critical”
  • 78% stated that they personally have experienced an electric shock while on the job
  • 36% stated they do not always wear the recommended level of personal protective equipment (PPE) while working on or near energized equipment of more than 50 V
  • 40% of safety professionals and consultants said they faced budget constraint obstacles when trying to gain approval for an electrical safety improvement project at their company and one-third stated the equipment was not considered “critical”

The report also provides an in-depth discussion of:

  • The mindset of electrical workers and safety professionals
  • Why companies must take a more direct approach to electrical shock mitigation
  • Why electrical shock incidents are more serious than the data reflects
  • The let-go threshold and the line between injury and death
  • How prevention through design is better than human-based safety methods
To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@globalspec.com