Written by Steve Stephenson
Electrical accidents result from injuries or death from:
When the body becomes a part of an electrical circuit an electrical shock occurs. What this means is that parts of the body are in contact with a source of electrical power such that electricity can enter the body at one point and leave through another. The two points may be very close together, or in widely separated parts of the body.
An electrical circuit is formed when one of three things happens:
Most electrical accidents are caused by a combination of three factors:
Electrical shock accidents are the most common types of electrical accidents. For example, the top five leading causes of electrical accidents in construction and maintenance work include:
The severity of the shock, and the resulting injury, in an electrical accident depends on a number of factors. These include the amount of electrical current (which depends on the voltage and the path through the body) and the amount of time the current flows through the body.
Even small amounts of electrical current can be dangerous in some circumstances. A current as low as 3 mA (milliamps) will produce painful muscle contractions. At 10 to 40 mA muscles will contract so strongly that you will not be able to let go of the electrical conductors. Currents greater than 30 mA can cause respiratory paralysis and death.
Notice how small these electrical current are. A circuit breaker might be set at 15 amps. This is 500 times greater than what can be lethal. Circuit breakers are designed to protect equipment, not people.
OSHA gives the the basics of electrical hazard protection as:
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