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Commentary: Electrical contact a serious safety issue

Jeff Koeppel, K&B Electric LLC 9:33 p.m.  CDT May 11, 2015

Jeff Koeppel | K & B Electric LLC | Managing Partner & Electrical Project Manager

KoeppelElectricity has been a usable energy resource for more than 100 years. Should we take it for granted? No, because the worst can happen in a single instant.

Electrical contact can easily result in a great deal of pain and suffering, as well as fatalities.  Voltage of an electrical
contact can range from 120 to 240 volts (household), 120 to 480 volts (light industrial), 120 to 13,800 volts (industrial), and 5,001 to 275,000 volts (power lines). A lightning strike can be 10 million volts to 120 million volts. It only takes 100 to 200 milliamps at 120 volts to deliver death by electrocution.

Industry safety protocols and procedures are continually reviewed and updated with the intention of preventing injury and harm; however, year after year there have been those who have not stayed current and/or simply ignored updates to OSHA requirements and/or NEC standards. NFPA 70E is on a three-year cycle, and the 2015 edition contains many significant changes.

An experienced electrician is not necessarily a qualified electrician, project to project. Years of unscathed experience means nothing if specific safety measurements aren’t adhered to. An unprotected move for the sake of time or to save physical exertion could end in tragedy for him or her and possibly others nearby. Plus, mistakes made could result in a problematic experience for the next electrician.

Electrical shock is serious and must not be taken for granted. The victim of an electrical contact could have both entrance and exit wounds, from no markings at all, a reddening of the skin, blistering of the skin or deep tissue burns (internally). Within the first 48 hours to beyond six months, a victim can experience: Brain damage, neural damage, concussion, broken bones and a long list of other serious medical problems.

Based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic survey of 200,000 employers across a five-year period (2006-2010), contact with overhead power lines (including direct worker contact and contact through machines, tools, and hand-carried metallic objects) was the largest fatal accident category, comprising 44 percent of all electrical fatalities from 1992 to 2010.

Contact with wiring, transformers or other electrical components (most common for workers who install, repair or maintain electrical systems and apparatus in the normal course of their electrical work) was the second-largest fatal injury category with 27 percent of all fatalities, followed by contact with electrical current of machine, tool, appliance or light fixture (most common for workers who use electrical tools and apparatus in the normal course of their nonelectrical work) with 17 percent.

Strict safety management is a must.

Jeff Koeppel is managing partner of K & B Electric LLC, an electrical and lighting contractor. Contact him at (920) 655-3676 or service@kbelectriccompany.com

 or go to www.kbelectriccompany.com.
 Source: GreenBayPressGazette.com
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