Powerline contact remains #1 cause of electrical injury and death, says
Electrical Safety Authority
MISSISSAUGA, ON, Oct. 2, 2013 /CNW/ - Despite a 38 per cent decrease in
electrical fatalities in the last five years, Ontarians continue to be
injured and killed in electrical safety incidents, according to a new
report released by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA). The report
notes that more than 70 per cent of all incidents occur in four areas:
contact with overhead powerlines, electrical workers, the misuse of
electrical products and electrical fires caused by old or faulty
electrical wiring. ESA research shows there continues to be a gap
between actual risk and perception of risk when it comes to these four
"While it appears that Ontarians are slowly getting the message about
electrical safety, far too many people are still injured and killed
every year, despite knowing the risks," said ESA Chief Public Safety
Officer Scott Saint. "This isn't just about awareness. People recognize
the hazards, but they think they can beat the odds. Tragically, many
Ontarians find out that they can't."
There has been a decline over the past few years in rates of
electrical-related injuries and fatalities, yet incidents continue to
occur in the same areas as before despite awareness. Risk perception
(rather than an unexpected event, for example) drives much of that
Powerline contact continues to be an area of concern, accounting for
almost half of all electrical-related fatalities in the past ten years.
Each year on average, three people die and five are critically injured
in Ontario due to contact with overhead powerlines. While most members
of the public know that a downed powerline is dangerous, the consumer
surveys indicate the majority fail to consider that they may come into
contact with a live wire when doing yard work and chores, like trimming
trees or cleaning eavestroughs.
Leaving cooking unattended on an electric stove or failing to get older
home wiring checked for problems are other common—but
high-risk—misconceptions about risk that can lead to fire, injury, or
Electricians continue to be critically injured on the job when working
on energized electrical panels or commercial lighting systems. Research
conducted by the ESA reveals that too often, electrical workers and
those who hire them do not perceive these jobs to be high-risk. Some
electricians end up "working live," which is in many cases technically
improper procedure - and they are paying the price.
"Electrical workers continue to be injured or killed—in some cases
because they do not appreciate or have become complacent about the
risk, and in others because they feel pressured by their customer or
employer," continued Saint. "We need to better understand these
perceptions so we can change them. Changing people's misperceptions is
critical to our goal of eliminating electrical-related deaths and
While electrical-related fatalities have decreased, even a small number
of incidents can drastically alter the current safety trend.
"Workers and members of the public must understand the risks and take
proper precautions," insisted Saint. "Vigilance is the key to safety."
The annual Ontario Electrical Safety Report has been produced by the ESA
for over a decade to provide a comprehensive assessment of electrical
fatalities and incidents in Ontario. Based on information from various
sources, including investigations and root-cause analysis, these data
allow ESA to direct resources where they are needed and where safety
challenges are greatest. The full report is available at www.esasafe.com.
The Electrical Safety Authority
The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) is an administrative authority
acting on behalf of the Government of Ontario with specific
responsibilities under the Electricity Act and the Safety and Consumer
Statutes Administration Act. As part of its mandate, ESA is responsible
for administering regulation in four key areas: the Ontario Electrical
Safety Code; licensing of Electrical Contractors and Master
Electricians; electrical distribution safety; and electrical product
Electrical worker fatalities remain stubbornly high, with electrical
tradespeople accounting for 29 per cent of electrical-related workplace
fatalities from 2003 to 2012.
Three to five people are critically injured due to contact with overhead
powerlines each year. Less than a third of Ontarians see powerlines as
a hazard when doing yardwork, trimming trees, or cleaning eavestroughs.
Nearly half (49 per cent) of electrical-related fatalities in the past
ten years have been utility-related electrocutions. The number of
fatalities in the utility sector has not changed compared to last year.
On average, approximately 500 house fires each year are caused by
electrical wiring, panels, and other distribution equipment.
More than 700 residential electric stove-top fires occur each year on
average. The leading cause is cooking left unattended.
SOURCE: Electrical Safety Authority
For further information:
Electrical Safety Authority