Electrical shock accidents and injuries are often the result of negligence,
Electrical shock accidents and injuries are often the result of negligence,Electrical shock accidents and injuries are often the result of negligence, like failure to fix known hazards; failure to follow written safety rules and processes s; and every day negligence. Defective products and equipment are also often at fault. Electrical shock liability cases can be complex to litigate. When an electrical shock injury occurs, a thorough investigation and evaluation of the cause(s)- is necessary.
The human body conducts electricity very well.The human body conducts electricity very well. That means, electricity passes very easily throughout the body. Direct contact with electrical current can be deadly. While some electrical burns look minor, there still may be serious internal damage, especially to the heart, muscles, or brain.
Electric current can cause injury in three ways:
Cardiac arrest due to the electrical effect on the heart
Muscle, nerve, and tissue destruction from a current passing through the body
Thermal burns from contact with the electrical source
CausesAccidental contact with exposed parts of electrical appliances or wiring
Flashing of electric arcs from high-voltage power lines
Machinery or occupational-related exposures
Young children biting or chewing on electrical cords, or poking metal objects into an electrical outlet
DamagesChanges in alertness (consciousness)
Problems with swallowing, vision, or hearing
Muscle spasms and pain
Numbness or tingling
Breathing problems or lung failure
Electrical current exposes people to a serious, widespread hazard;Electrical current exposes people to a serious, widespread hazard; practically all members of society are exposed to electrical energy during the performance of their daily duties, and electrocutions occur to workers in various job categories. Many people are unaware of the potential electrical hazards present in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to the danger of electrocution.
From 1992 through 2002, there were 3,378 workers who died from on-the-job electrical injuriesIn a 2006 publication, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported that from 1992 through 2002, there were 3,378 workers who died from on-the-job electrical injuries.
That number reflects 4.7% of all occupational deaths. That's almost one death per day.
The number makes electricity the fourth leading cause of injury-related occupational death.
Contact with overhead power lines was the most common cause of electrocutions, resulting in 42% of all on-the-job electrical deaths.
The second most common cause of electrocutions was failure to properly de-energize electrical equipment prior to commencing work.
The third most common cause was contact with electrical components mistakenly thought to be de-energized due to a mistake in wiring or re-wiring, or misidentified wiring.
Contact with buried, underground power lines caused 1% of the fatalities.
Also from 1992 through 2002, 46,598 workers were non-fatally injured by electricity.
Electric shock is a reflex response possibly involving traumaElectric shock is a reflex response possibly involving trauma which occurs when electrical current passes over or through a person's body. It usually involves burns and abnormal heart rhythm and unconsciousness.Electrocution occurs when electrical current passes over or through a person's body resulting in a fatality. Electric shock may cause muscles to contract causing a victim to lose his or her balance and fall. An explosion from an electrical incident can also cause a fall.??
BurnsElectrical burns are the most common shock-related, nonfatal injury. They occur when a person's contacts energized electrical wiring or equipment. Although electrical burns can occur anywhere on the body, they most often occur on the hands and feet.
How shock occurselectricity travels in closed circuits through a conductor. Electric shock occurs when the body becomes part of the electrical circuit. This can happen when any of the following occurs.
?1. The body comes into contact with wires in an energized circuit.
2. The body comes into contact with one wire of an energized circuit and a path to the ground.
3. The body comes into contact with a metallic part that has become "hot" by contact with an energized conductor.
TheSeverity of Shock severity of the shock depends on three factors.
1. The path of the current through the body.
2. The amount of current flowing through the body.
3. The length of time the body is in the circuit.
Current and Its Effect on the Human BodyThe effects of electricity on the human body depend on many variables.
The strength of the current
Duration of contact
Body mass (small frames provide less resistance, large frames provide more) Gender of the person
Moisture of the body
The path of the current
High levels of electricity introduced to the body can kill instantlyLow level currents can be introduced to the body and cause nothing more than numbness to the limbs, which can last anything from a few moments to a few hours. However high levels of electricity introduced to the body can kill instantly as electricity enters the body and tries to leave the body again by following the shortest path to the ground.
Low level currents can affect the beating of the human heart, which itself beats because of an internal electrical impulse. These alternating currents (AC) introduced to the body can cause the heart to skip a beat or beat in an unnatural manner, which in turn can lead to cardiac arrhythmias (changes to the heart's normal beating).
Blunt Force Trauma
High level shocks simply pass through the body at speed and stop the heart from beating resulting in instantaneous death.
BurnsHeating due to resistance can cause extensive and deep burns. Voltage levels of 500 to 1000 volts tend to cause internal burns due to the large energy (which is proportional to the duration multiplied by the square of the voltage divided by resistance) available from the source. Damage due to current is through tissue heating.
Hart injuryIf the current has a direct pathway to the heart (e.g., via a cardiac catheter or other kind of electrode), a much lower current of less than 1 mA (AC or DC) can cause fibrillation. If not immediately treated by defibrillation, fibrillation is usually lethal because all of the heart muscle cells move independently instead of in the coordinated pulses needed to pump blood and maintain circulation. Above 200 mA, muscle contractions are so strong that the heart muscles cannot move at all, but these conditions prevent fibrillation.
Neurological effectsCurrent can cause interference with nervous control, especially over the heart and lungs. Repeated or severe electric shock which does not lead to death has been shown to cause neuropathy. Recent research has found that functional differences in neural activation during spatial working memory and implicit learning oculomotor tasks have been identified in electrical shock victims.
Arc-flashThe heat produced may cause severe burns, especially on unprotected flesh. The arc blast produced by vaporizing metallic components can break bones and damage internal organs. The degree of hazard present at a particular location can be determined by a detailed analysis of the electrical system, and appropriate protection worn if the electrical work must be performed with the electricity on.
Survivors may be faced with long-termEven without visible burn, electric shock survivors may be faced with long-term muscular pain and discomfort, fatigue, problems with peripheral nerve conduction and sensation, inadequate balance and coordination, and other additional symptoms. Central nervous system effects have been known to occur and may be diffuse and difficult to diagnose or treat.
Electrical injury often leads to problemsElectrical injury often leads to problems with neurocognitive function, affecting speed of mental processing, attention, concentration, and memory. The high frequency of psychological problems is very well established and may be multifactorial in etiology. As with any traumatic and life-threatening experience, electrical injury may result in post traumatic psychiatric disorders which can be as life-changing as a major physical deformity. Involvement of experienced consultants and a supportive environment are required to facilitate rehabilitation, return to gainful employment, and normal family and social functioning.
Additional resources provided by the author
- ELECTRICAL SAFETY
- electrical hazards
- Physiological effects of electricity
- Traditional teaching is that the severity of electrical injury depends on Kouwenhoven's factors
- dangers that electricity can cause around the home
- Chicago Electrical Trauma Instutute
- ELECTROCUTION RELATED DEATHS
- IEEE Standards Association and industry
- ARC FLASH, ELECTRICAL FAULTS PROTECTION
- The National Coronial Information System (NCIS)