Electrical Fatalities Among U.S. Construction Workers

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Over 2000 electrocution deaths were identified among U.S. construction workers from 1980 to 1991, with the highest mean annual crude mortality rate (2.5 per 100,000 people), and second highest mean age-adjusted rate (2.7 per 100,000 people) of all industries. Although the crude fatality rates showed a downward trend, construction workers are still about four times more likely to be electrocuted at work than are workers in all industries combined. Nearly 40% of the 5083 fatal electrocutions in all industries combined occurred in construction, and 80% were associated with industrial wiring, appliances, and transmission lines. Electrocutions ranked as the second leading cause of death among construction workers, accounting for an average of 15% of traumatic deaths in the industry from 1980 to 1991. The study indicates that the workers most at risk of electrical injury are male, young, nonwhite, and electricians, structural metal workers, and laborers. The most likely time of injury is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from June to August. Focusing prevention on these populations and characteristics through better methods of worker and supervisor electrical safety training, use of adequate protective clothing, and compliance with established procedures could minimize the average annual loss of 168 U.S. construction workers.

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