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NIOSH Issues Information Re Workplace Safety Related to Electricity


Electrical accidents are fortunately rare, but when they do occur, the results are usually devastating to workers and passers-by. Many workers are not aware of electrical hazards in the workplace, especially if their primary job assignment does not involve working with electricity. As a result, workplace safety is compromised.

An important source of information about electrical safety is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). They issue numerous publications on workplace safety, focusing on fatal electrical accidents (electrocutions), falls caused by contact with electrical current, electric shock and burns.

Important publications issued by NIOSH cover topics such as:

  • Preventing worker deaths caused by contact with overhead power lines
  • Problems with some devices intended to warn workers about proximity to overhead power lines
  • Preventing electrocutions caused by using metal ladders close to power lines
  • Summaries of worker deaths involving power lines
  • Special instruction for crane and lift operators
  • Electricity and workers using hydraulic hoses
  • Instructions for tree trimmers
  • Instructions for workers using scaffolds

In addition to publishing information to improve worker safety, NIOSH also collects data on electrical fatalities around the United States. Some of the most recent include:

  • Electrocution of a tree trimmer coming in contact with overhead power lines (California)
  • Electrocution of a roofer coming in contact with overhead power lines (Massachusetts)
  • Electrical lineman killed when he came in contact with high-voltage power line (Michigan)
  • Truck driver killed when raised tit device came in contact with overhead power lines (Michigan)

As these few incidents show, contacting overhead power lines while working is a significant cause of electrical injury and death. While many power lines in New York City are buried, overhead electrical lines are present in many neighborhoods 8in NYC and pose significant hazards to workers and raising important concerns about workplace safety.

Source: NIOSH, "Electrical Safety," 2009.