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Electrical deaths more common at home

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Fatalities caused by electrical accidents are now more prevalent in the home than on the job.

According the Electrical Safety Authority’s (ESA) report on electrical safety in Ontario, there were four electrical fatalities in the general public and two in non-electrical industries.

“Behind each statistic is a human story, and these Ontarians unnecessarily lost their lives last year due to electrical harm,” says Dr. Joel Moody, public safety officer with the ESA. “No family should have to endure the pain of losing a loved one when all electrical deaths are preventable.”

The report shows that of the approximately 1,000 injuries caused by electricity in Ontario, 52 per cent happen in the workplace.

While the number of emergency room visits due to electrical injuries has decreased by 44 per cent in the past decade, the ESA report found more than 80 per cent of these are classified as critical injuries.

“We see a steady stream of patients with electrical injuries every year, and those injuries can often be life changing,” says Dr. Marc Jeschke, medical director of the Ross Tilley Burn Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “The more awareness people have about preventing dangerous situations that lead to serious injuries, the better.”

The report identified a number of other trends, including;

– More than 70 per cent of all electrical-related injuries and fatalities occur in four specific areas – misuse of electrical products and unapproved/counterfeit products, electrical fires, powerline contact and incidents involving electrical trade workers

– Utility-related deaths accounted for half of all electricity-related fatalities over the past decade. However, the number of deaths have decreased since 2009

– The rolling average of powerline electrocutions has decrease by 47 per cent when comparing 2014-2018 with the previous five year span

“I think we are very happy to see continued overall decline. When we look at the rates of electrical-related deaths, we are actually less than one in one million [per population],” Moody told The Oshawa Express.

Moody says these improvements can be attributed to “many people maintaining a robust safety system.”

“That’s working with industry, manufacturers, and various parts of government to look at mechanisms of understanding of where the harms are, groups that are at risk, and developing initiatives that encompass the entire system together, he adds.

But even there have been gains in electrical safety, Moody is adamant more need to be done.

“Those 1,000 injuries and deaths are 1,000 injuries and deaths too many. Electricity is a very unforgiving and lethal substance,” Moody said. “We always want to make sure Ontarians know how to keep themselves safe from electrical harm.”

Moody said they must continue to provide education and public awareness, and work with industry partners and manufacturers.

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