Occupational electrical injuries in the United States, 1992-1998, and recommendations for safety research

J Safety Res. 2003;34(3):241-8. doi: 10.1016/s0022-4375(03)00028-8.


Problem: CFOI and SOII data show that 2,287 U.S. workers died and 32,807 workers sustained days away from work due to electrical shock or electrical burn injuries between 1992 and 1998.

Method: The narrative, work activity, job title, source of injury, location, and industry for each fatal electrical accident were examined. A primary causal factor was identified for each fatality.

Results: Electrical fatalities were categorized into five major groups. Overall, 44% of electrical fatalities occurred in the construction industry. Contact with overhead power lines caused 41% of all electrical fatalities.

Discussion: Electrical shock caused 99% of fatal and 62% of nonfatal electrical accidents. Comprising about 7% of the U.S. workforce, construction workers sustain 44% of electrical fatalities. Power line contact by mobile equipment occurs in many industries and should be the subject of focused research. Other problem areas are identified and opportunities for research are proposed.

Impact on industry: Improvements in electrical safety in one industry often have application in other industries.

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Electric Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S.
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Research
  • United States / epidemiology