OTTAWA — The Canadian electrical industry is calling on all tradespeople to set today (Oct. 6) aside as Electrical Injury Day of Recognition, a day to raise awareness on the long-term consequences of electric shock exposure.
Sponsored by the Electrical Contractors Association of Alberta, the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association (CECA), the Electrical Contractors Association of British Columbia, and the National Electrical Trade Council, the initiative raises awareness of the dangers of electric shock injury to support workers and the economy.
Exposure to electric shock has been common since the invention of electricity, states the CECA website, adding while the immediate effects were known, there was no awareness of the potential long-term consequences. Research now shows a complex injury can develop after receiving an electric shock, sometimes delayed by months or years.
Electrical injury can occur regardless of the voltage you are exposed to. The potential immediate severity of the electric shock injury depends on multiple factors including but not limited to AC or DC voltage, frequency, path of the current, magnitude of the current and duration of exposure.
To avoid electric shock injury, avoid exposure to electrical current whenever possible. Any contact with electrical current, regardless if there is a visible injury, must be reported to both your employer and family physician, the safety authority having jurisdiction and documentation retained by the worker.
Recommended safe work practices include eliminating exposure by “Establishing an Electrically Safe Work Condition.”
This is done by isolating electrical equipment and testing for absence of voltage, Lock Out Tag Out, Test-Before-Touch.
Energized electrical work tasks shall be performed when justified and authorized only after completing a work task’s shock risk assessment in order to determine and apply “additional protective measures,” including establishing and applying shock approach protection boundaries, using appropriate voltage rated rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors, wearing ohm rated insulating footwear, eliminating bare skin exposure with approved PPE for the work task and using certified and regularly tested insulating/insulated hand tools, states the website.
After exposure to electrical current, seek medical attention. Following exposure to electrical current the family of the injured worker should monitor for changes in mood, behaviour, pain and memory loss. Research shows early intervention from mental health professionals is essential for the worker.
“Electrical injuries, and specifically low voltage shocks, are something that can impact all tradespeople,” said the National Trade Contractors Council of Canada in a statement. “The National Trade Contractors Council of Canada is proud to join with the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association to raise awareness of the dangers of electrical shock injury, and to encourage the construction industry to continue its efforts to enhance the health and safety of tradespeople across the country.”