Thermal burn and electrical injuries among electric utility workers, 1995-2004

Burns. 2007 Mar;33(2):209-20. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2006.06.017. Epub 2006 Nov 20.


This study describes the occurrence of work-related injuries from thermal-, electrical- and chemical-burns among electric utility workers. We describe injury trends by occupation, body part injured, age, sex, and circumstances surrounding the injury. This analysis includes all thermal, electric, and chemical injuries included in the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Occupational Health and Safety Database (OHSD). There were a total of 872 thermal burn and electric shock injuries representing 3.7% of all injuries, but accounting for nearly 13% of all medical claim costs, second only to the medical costs associated with sprain- and strain-related injuries (38% of all injuries). The majority of burns involved less than 1 day off of work. The head, hands, and other upper extremities were the body parts most frequently injured by burns or electric shocks. For this industry, electric-related burns accounted for the largest percentage of burn injuries, 399 injuries (45.8%), followed by thermal/heat burns, 345 injuries (39.6%), and chemical burns, 51 injuries (5.8%). These injuries also represented a disproportionate number of fatalities; of the 24 deaths recorded in the database, contact with electric current or with temperature extremes was the source of seven of the fatalities. High-risk occupations included welders, line workers, electricians, meter readers, mechanics, maintenance workers, and plant and equipment operators.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Accidents, Occupational / economics
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Accidents, Occupational / trends
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Burns / economics
  • Burns / epidemiology*
  • Burns / etiology
  • Burns, Chemical / economics
  • Burns, Chemical / epidemiology
  • Burns, Electric / economics
  • Burns, Electric / epidemiology
  • Cost of Illness
  • Electric Injuries / economics
  • Electric Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Electric Injuries / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workers' Compensation / economics
  • Workers' Compensation / statistics & numerical data