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ESA says 2013 “a particularly tragic year” for electrical-related fatalities

November 19, 2014 | By Anthony Capkun

November 19, 2014 – Despite a 33% drop in electrical fatalities in the last five years, the Electrical Safety Authority says Ontarians continue to be injured and killed in electrical incidents.

That’s one of the findings of ESA’s latest annual Ontario Electrical Safety Report, which also notes electrical-related fatalities on the job continue to outpace non-occupational deaths… and this gap is increasing.

“Workers are not changing their behaviour toward electrical risk at the same rate as other Ontarians,” said Scott Saint, chief public safety officer with ESA. “Our research shows that occupational electrical-related fatalities exceed non-occupational deaths by a ratio of close to 3 to 1. Last year it was 2 to 1. This increase is concerning.”

Electrical trade workers are particularly at risk, notes ESA: they continue to be critically injured on the job when working on energized electrical panels or ballasts/347V lighting.  ESA research reveals electrical trade workers accounted for 1/4 of occupational electrical-related deaths in the last 10 years.


“Workers are trained to work safely and conduct a site hazard assessment of each job they’re working on, but investigations show that, in many cases, [they] don’t carry out the correct safety actions,” added Saint. “We need to understand why they skip critical safety steps, and then find ways to change workers’ behaviour.”

Powerline contact continues to be an area of concern, notes ESA, accounting for almost half of all electrical-related fatalities in the past 10 years. Each year, three people die and five are critically injured due to contact with overhead powerlines.

While there has been a decline over the past few years in rates of electrical-related injuries and fatalities, 2013 was a particularly tragic year, where there were nine electrical-related fatalities (there were only two in 2012). There were also nine deaths from electrical-related fires in 2013 compared to five in 2012.

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