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Industry Hazards

Many of the specific hazards associated with this industry are similar to those found in other large industries. In addition, workers in other industries have experienced electrocution injuries and fatalities from distribution lines, most notably in the telephone and cable industries (see Hazards for Other Workers). The most important hazards associated with the electric power industry are:

Electrocution

Student Safety Manual

  • Electrical Safety: Safety and Health for Electrical Trades Student Manual. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2009-113, (2009, March). As part of a safety and health curriculum for secondary and post-secondary electrical trades courses, this manual is designed to engage the learner in recognizing, evaluating, and controlling hazards associated with electrical work.

Electrocution Reports

  • Electrical Safety. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Provides links to in-house and state based fatality investigation reports of incidents in which electrical incidents resulted in worker deaths, NIOSH publications, and other related web sites.
  • Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Studies fatal occupational injuries to prevent occupational fatalities across the nation by identifying and investigating work situations at high risk for injury and then formulating and disseminating prevention strategies to those who may intervene in the workplace. It provides users with access to the full text of hundreds of fatality investigation reports, indexes reports by program, industry and cause of fatality.

US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publications

  • Preventing Worker Deaths from Uncontrolled Release of Electrical, Mechanical, and Other Types of Hazardous Energy. Publication No. 99-110, (1999). Describes five fatal incidents in which workers contacted uncontrolled hazardous energy during installation, maintenance, service, or repair work.
  • Preventing Electrocutions of Crane Operators and Crew Members Working Near Overhead Power Lines. Publication No. 95-108, (1995, May). Describes five cases (six electrocutions) that resulted from the hazards of operating cranes near overhead power lines and makes recommendations for preventing similar incidents.
  • Preventing Falls and Electrocutions During Tree Trimming. Publication No. 92-106, (1992, August). Describes eight incidents involving five electrocutions and three fatal falls of tree trimmers. One recommendation made is to notify the utility company when an aerial bucket truck or other boomed vehicle must operate near a power line or when work must be performed within minimum working distances specified by OSHA (see Table 1). The utility company and the employer should then discuss the options for protecting workers: de-energizing and grounding the power lines or covering them with insulating hoses or blankets.
  • Preventing Fatalities of Workers Who Contact Electrical Energy. Publication No. 87-103, (1986, December). Prompt emergency medical care can be lifesaving for workers who have contacted either low voltage or high voltage electric energy. Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) within approximately 4 minutes followed by advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) within approximately 8 minutes has been shown to save lives.
  • Worker Deaths by Electrocution: A Summary of Surveillance Findings and Investigative Case Reports. Publication No. 98-131, (1998, May). Provides an overview of electrical hazards, including the effects of electrical energy on the human body; a comprehensive summary of the epidemiology of occupational electrocutions based on National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) and Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) data which identifies common risk factors for fatal injury due to contact with electrical energy; and recommendations for elements of an effective electrical safety program for the prevention of workplace electrocutions. Part II includes a summary abstract for all 224 FACE electrocution investigative reports prepared by NIOSH for further information and reference.
  • For additional information, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:
Falls
  • Worker Deaths by Falls. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2000-116, (2000, September). Reports that falls from elevations were the fourth leading cause of occupational fatalities from 1980 through 1994. The 8,102 deaths due to falls from elevations accounted for 10% of all fatalities and an average of 540 deaths per year. Between 1982 and 1997, NIOSH investigated 90 falls incidents that resulted in 91 fatalities.
  • A Plant Operator at a Coal Fired Power Generation Plant in Texas, Died When He Fell Between the Bypass Dampers Located in the Flu Gas Disulfurization Unit. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Report 98TX23501, (1998, December 28). A 32-year-old plant operator died while performing regularly scheduled maintenance on bypass dampers in the flu gas disulfurization unit at a power generation plant.
  • Electrician Falls to His Death From an Old Wooden Transformer Platform. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Report 981A053. A 47-year-old city electrical supervisor died from injuries suffered when he fell 25 feet from a wooden utility platform. The transformer platform was not well designed for safe maintenance work. It was too wide to enable accessing the transformers from a bucket, yet it was not built for safe access while standing on the platform.
  • Lineman Dies from Fall from Utility Pole. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Report 88-39. The belt and safety strap worn by the victim would have been adequate to prevent a fall if used, but these were not utilized due to the difficulty in passing the television cable. A second strap, to provide protection until the climber had the primary strap in place above the lower cable, could have prevented this fall. In this incident the victim was only wearing leather (non-insulated) gloves when he contacted the energized line. If insulated gloves and sleeves had been worn, the victim would not have received the electrical shock which contributed to the fatal fall.
  • 33 Year-Old Apprentice Substation Electrician Fatally Injured. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Report 8610. A 33-year-old electrician came into contact with electrical energy while cleaning a substation switch. He died from injuries sustained as a result of falling from the aerial bucket from which he was working. The victim did not have himself belted to the aerial bucket as required. This would have prevented his fall and the injuries sustained in the fall.
  • For additional information, see OSHA's Fall Protection Safety and Health Topics Page.
Confined Spaces
  • Worker Deaths in Confined Spaces: A Summary of NIOSH Surveillance and Investigative Findings. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 94-103, (1994, January). From December 1983 through September 1993, the deaths of 480 workers in 423 incidents were investigated. Seventy of these investigations involved confined spaces where 109 persons died. In 25 of the confined-space incidents, there were multiple fatalities, including those deaths which involved persons attempting rescue.
  • Preventing Occupational Fatalities in Confined Spaces. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-110, (1986, January). The deaths of workers in confined spaces constitute a recurring occupational tragedy; approximately 60% of these fatalities have involved would-be rescuers. NIOSH investigations indicate that workers usually do not recognize that they are working in a confined space and that they may encounter unforeseen hazards. Testing and evaluation of the atmosphere are typically not initiated prior to entry and monitoring is not performed during the confined space work procedures. Rescue is seldom planned and usually consists of spontaneous reaction in an emergency situation.
  • For additional information, see OSHA'sConfined Spaces Safety and Health Topics Page.
Fires and Explosions
Sprains, Strains, and Fractures
Environmental Stress
Industry Overview

The electric power industry is a large, diverse, and fully integrated combination of several sub-industries. The major sub-industries and their SIC and NAICS codes are:

2002 NAICS 1987 SIC Corresponding Index Entries
2211 4911 Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution
22111 4911 Electric Power Generation
221111 4911 Hydroelectric Power Generation
  4911 Electric services-hydroelectric power generation
4931 Electric & other services combined-hydroelectric power generation
4939 Combination utilities-hydroelectric power generation
221112 4911 Fossil Fuel Electric Power Generation
  4911 Electric services-electric power generation by fossil fuels
  4931 Electric & other services combined-electric power generation by fossil fuels
  4939 Combination utilities-electric power generation by fossil fuels
221113 4911 Nuclear Electric Power Generation
  4911 Electric services-electric power generation by nuclear fuels
  4931 Electric & other services combined-electric power generation by nuclear fuels
221119 4911 Other Electric Power Generation
  4911 Electric services-other electric power generation
  4931 Electric & other services combined-other power generation
  4939 Combination utilities-other power generation
22112 4911 Electric Power Transmission, Control, and Distribution
221121 4911 Electric Bulk Power Transmission and Control
  4911 Electric services-electric power transmission and control
  4931 Electric & other services combined-electric power transmission
  4939 Combination utilities-electric power transmission
221122 4911 Electric Power Distribution
  4911 Electric services-electric power distribution
  4931 Electric & other services combined-electric power distribution
  4939 Combination utilities-electric power distribution

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