Cases of electrical fatalities in the general public aren’t all too new. Across Canada, electrocution and injuries attributed to electricity have become so rampant that the Electrical Safety Authority has had to initiate awareness campaigns.
But while the campaigns have always been targeted at those engaged in typical tasks outdoors, especially construction workers whose 60% risk is the highest, there’s a need to look at the risk broadly. Specifically, the focus shouldn’t be directed on those who are mostly engaged in utilities, hauliers and arborists alone.
An electrical hazard is a danger of getting electrocuted or injured as a result of touching an energized equipment. The human body, being a good electrical conductor, completes the circuit and enables the connection to reach the earth.
However, it is during this circuit completion that can result in death. Data show that most electrical injuries and fatalities are a result of negligence and sheer naivety amongst the general public.
Engineers, electricians, and overhead line workers are those that stand the highest chance of getting electrocuted. This doesn’t mean those who aren’t exposed to electrical hazards daily are less likely to suffer the unforgiving brunt at home, despite having exercised extreme caution when working around high voltage lines.
That’s the sad thing about electricity – once the current reaches an amount that can disrupt the rhythm of your heart, it can kill you instantly or in 2 weeks. Any and all-electric shock should be treated seriously if it crosses your heart, a small shock as some will call it can disrupt your heart enough that it puts extra stress on your heart to try and get back into a natural rhythm again.
The voltage is the force that helps the current flow through a resistor, in this case, you, so although it doesn’t technically kill you it is a major factor in how much current can flow through your body. This is why extra low voltage current limited circuits are considered to be safe when touching live wires.
See, electrocution is never selective and as long as the amperage is big enough to cause the muscles to clench it makes it impossible for the victim to let go of the current source, this makes DC voltages more dangerous than AC voltages. AC voltages follow a sine wave pattern, meaning they go from 0V to 170V down to -170V back up to 0V again 60 times a second in North America. The drop to 0V allows you to potentially break free from the circuit, while DC stays at the same Voltage till its de-energized and depending on the current will not allow you to break free from the circuit. Regardless of whether one is outdoors or at home, a little mishap can be serious and severe or fatal.
Voltage is the power that pumps a flow of current against resistance, or more closely, ‘the push’ on the electrons. Sometimes, sparks occur at high voltage lines when two hots come into close contact with each other.
The same is true with the body’s natural resistance against an electric current. The skin is the only barrier, and once it’s breached, a higher current will ultimately cause burns from resistive heating of the defenceless internal organs. This explains why a 3V current is harmless, but when it is over 120V, death could be imminent.
When it comes to staying safe from electrical hazards, everyone ought to watch out regardless of the regulations mentioned. It also is the responsibility of employers, managers, and supervisors to communicate any concerns and updates on the risks around.
Always stay safe, whether at home or out in the workplace. In case there are equipment defects or concerns, known workplace hazards or violations, don’t hesitate to have it reported or call your local electrician to check things out. It is extremely important to be cautious of everything when working with electrical equipment and it is always recommended you call an electrical expert if you have any doubts about doing the work yourself.