CONSTRUCTION SAFETY TALK SERIES – Fatal Four – Electrical Hazards

Electrical hazards led to 82 construction worker deaths in 2016. By identifying these hazards, and understanding how they happen, we can take steps to protect ourselves.

According to OSHA, Electrical Hazards can be defined as a serious hazard that exposes
workers to burns, electrocution, shock, arc flash / arc blast, fire, or explosions.

Types of Situations and What to Be Aware Of

Contact with Power Lines

Overhead and buried power lines are
hazardous because they carry extremely
high voltage. Fatalities are possible as
electrocution is the main risk; however,
burns and falls from elevations are also
hazards that workers are exposed to
while working in the vicinity of high
voltage power lines.

Contact with Energized Sources

Hazards regarding contact with energized
sources are electrical shock and burns.
Electrical shock occurs when the body
becomes part of the electric circuit (when an
individual comes in contact with both wires of
an electrical circuit, one wire of an energized
circuit and the ground, or a metallic part that
has become energized by contact with an
electrical conductor).

Improper Use of Extension Cords

Normal wear and tear on extension and
flexible cords can loosen or expose wires,
creating a hazardous condition. Hazards
are created when cords, cord connectors,
receptacles, and cord- and plug connected
equipment are improperly used and
maintained. If the electrical conductors
become exposed, there is a danger of shocks,
burns, or fire.

BE SAFE! Electrical hazards expose workers to the following:

Burns: Three types; electrical, arc flash, or thermal contact.
Electrocution: Electrocution is fatal; it means to kill with electricity.


Shock: A response to electric current passing through the body.
Arc Flash/Blast: Emits heat and intense light that causes burns.
Fire: Occurs with faulty outlets, old wiring, cords, and switches.
Explosions: When electricity ignites explosive material in the air.

How to protect yourself:

  • Inspect all electrical tools and equipment PRIOR to use.
  • GFCIs are required on temporary electricity and wet locations.
  • Never use anything that is damaged.
  • Treat all electrical wires as if they were energized.
  • Maintain a 10 ft. clearance from all overheard lines.
  • Allow only Qualified Electricians to perform electrical work.
  • Keep at least 3 feet from all electrical panels.
  • Ensure all tools and wiring are properly grounded.
  • Require the proper PPE for the work being performed.
  • NEVER work on hot electrical equipment, always de-energize.
  • Follow the NEC and other Electrical Safe Work Practices.
  • Train others on basic electrical safety and hazard recognition.

For more information and training on how to prevent the Focus Four Hazards, please visit: https://www.osha.gov/dte/outreach/construction/focus_four/index.html

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