The State of Electrical Shock Safety

Survey Finds Insufficient Efforts Taken to Protect Workers from the Most Fatal Electrical Hazard

The flashier something is, the greater its power to captivate our attention—and hazards are not an exception. Maybe this is why the industry tends to forget how dangerous electrical shock is, even though electrical shock accounts for more than 90 % of electrical fatalities—100 % in 2018—among US workers. Or, maybe it is because we don’t have a full understanding of how many fatalities were due to electrical shock each year because many are categorized under a different cause of death, or that the ”steadily declining trend” of electrical fatalities among us workers is in fact, a myth.

We surveyed almost 600 people who work directly with electricity to gauge how well companies are protecting their workers from electrical shock. 

More than 75 % of people who work directly with electricity have been electrically shocked while on the job, the survey found, half of which by more than 220 volts.

The survey draws connections between the respondents’ answers pertaining to their knowledge, their experience and their companies’ safety measures against electrical shock, such as:

  • The correlation between workers’ experience of being electrically shocked while on the job and their self-rated confidence in their ability to recognize an electrical shock hazard
  • Whether being provided safety training makes a difference in a workers’ knowledge of how much voltage is safe to work on or near
  • How many workers who believe a dangerous level of voltage is safe to work on or near use electrical gloves provided by their facility that fail to comply with electrical protective equipment safety standards 
  • Safety by design and special-purpose GFCIs (SPGFCIs)

This report also provides an in-depth discussion of:

  • The prevalence of electrical shock fatalities and the misconception that electrical shock fatalities are steadily declining;
  • Variables that impact the severity of an electrical shock injury, and the long-term injuries of the body;
  • Conditions where shock protection is not required by the NEC but contain shock hazards that jeopardize workers’ safety; and
  • Safety by design and special-purpose GFCIs (SPGFCIs).