As an experienced electrician, I can attest that the job can be electrifying (pun intended). The world depends on electricity to power our daily lives, and electricians are the unsung heroes who keep the lights on. But, just like any job, it has its dangers.
Despite the common belief that electrocution is the greatest danger for electricians, being electrocuted is only the 6th most common reason for fatality in the electrical trade. The dangers of working as an electrician involve many other risks. These are included in the following table showing the number of fatalities in work accidents (source).
|Cause of fatality||Number of fatalities in 2020|
|Falls, Slips, and Trips||805|
|Getting Struck by an Object or Equipment||468|
|Exposure to Harmful Substances||546|
|Getting Crushed or Caught by an Object||142|
|Exposure to Electrical Current||126|
|Getting Struck by Collapsing Materiel||93|
|Fire and Explosions||40|
The data from this study is showing fatalities in all electrical-related industries such as construction, repair, service, and the electrical work tasks related to the mining industry. The construction industry has shown the highest rate of fatal electrical injuries.
How Dangerous is Being an Electrician?
Even though it is not the most common danger of being an electrician, getting shocked by a live current is probably what most people fear. Electricity is in fact a powerful force (that I can testify) that can be dangerous if not handled correctly.
As an electrician, you are in many cases working near live currents, and one wrong move can result in a potentially fatal shock. Electrical shocks can range from a mild tingling sensation to a severe jolt that can stop your heart.
126 workers lost their lives due to electrical exposure in 2020, but there is a silver lining to this rather tragic statistic. There was a 24% decrease from 2019, representing the lowest annual number of fatal electrical injuries in almost 30 years of data collection. This is going in the right direction, but it does not diminish the need for greater caution and safety measures in industries where workers are at risk of direct contact with power sources.
But it’s not just the shock that can be dangerous. Electrical work also involves working in high places, crawling through tight spaces, and dealing with heavy equipment. One wrong move can result in a fall or other serious injury. And I’ve definitely been told my fair share of horror stories by fellow electricians about some of their former (let that sink in for a moment) colleagues.
Learn from My Own Shocking Experience
Let me share with you my experience as an apprentice electrician. There was this one time when I was working on a live circuit, and I accidentally touched a bare wire. It wasn’t a big shock, but it was enough to make me jump and realize the power of electricity.
But what was an even bigger “shock” was the scolding my journeyman got for allowing me to work on a live current as a first-year apprentice at the time.
After that incident, I learned the importance of being cautious and aware of your surroundings when working with electrical wires. Always make sure that you’ve turned off the power and double-check before starting any work. It’s not rocket science, but it’s definitely important to keep in mind.
Another time, I was working on a panel and didn’t realize that the power was still on. I got a little shock that knocked me back a bit. It was my second (and hopefully) last reminder to stay alert and not get complacent on the job.
The truth is, getting shocked shouldn’t be part of the job description. It’s our responsibility as electricians to take every precaution possible to ensure our safety and the safety of those around us. So, if you’re considering a career in electrical work, always prioritize safety, be aware of your surroundings, and don’t take any unnecessary risks. Remember, working with electricity can be electrifying in more ways than one, so stay safe out there!
The Construction Industry is the Most Dangerous
In addition to electrical shocks, we can also face other hazards on the job. For example, cable trays are notorious for causing scratches and cuts. Working in factories and medical businesses can expose you to dangerous chemicals and dust, which can cause respiratory issues. And honestly, the list goes on and on. In fact, just two weeks ago I went to the hospital for a rather deep (and accidentally self-inflicted) cut on my left finger.
But these are just my own experiences and notes I’ve taken over the last couple of years. The same study by ESFI concludes that there are some industries, that experience more fatalities than others. From highest to lowest rated, the following table shows the most dangerous industries for an electrician measured in fatalities.
|Industry||Fatal Accidents 2003- 2020|
|Natural resources and mining||154|
Being an electrician can be a dangerous job as long as you don’t follow safety procedures. Electricians face the constant risk of electrical shocks, falls, and other serious injuries. However, with proper training and safety procedures, these risks can be minimized. If you’re considering a career in electrical work, make sure you’re prepared for the risks and take all necessary precautions.
- Can I become an electrician if I have a fear of heights?
- Yes, but you may need to work on overcoming your fear as electrical work often involves working in high places.
- Do all electricians work with live wires?
- Not all electricians work with live wires. But in some cases and electrical professions, it is a necessity.
- Can electricians develop respiratory problems from exposure to chemicals and dust?
- Yes, electricians who work in factories and medical businesses are at risk of developing respiratory problems from exposure to dangerous chemicals and dust.
- How often should I check my safety equipment as an electrician?
- You should check your safety equipment before every job to make sure it’s in good condition.
- What’s the most important safety tip for electricians?
- The most important safety tip for electricians is to always follow safety procedures and never take shortcuts.