Factors that affect the severity of electrocution

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Factors that affect the severity of electrocution

Electrical incidents are among the top sources of hazard for workers on New York City construction sites. To help employers and construction workers understand and prevent disasters, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides information on how electricity affects the body and the injuries and fatalities that may occur as a result of an electrical accident.

Skin is not a good conductor of electricity when it is dry, but salt, acid and other impurities increase its conductivity. Sweat or water on the skin or water in the environment increase the likelihood of a shock, which occurs when a person’s body becomes a part of the closed electrical circuit. The presence of moisture affects how severe the shock is. Other factors include the voltage, what path the current takes and how long it is in the body.

A low level of current measuring between one and five milliamperes, the measurement used for electricity, might cause a mere tingle or a slight shock. In this range, conditions or reactions could still cause more severe injuries. Anything between five milliamperes and 99 has the potential to cause pain, permanent injuries and death, depending on the contributing factors such as the person’s health, the heart cycle phase and other situational issues. When the current exceeds 100 milliamperes, heart problems, muscle contractions and damage to the nerves occurs, and there is a high probability of death.

OSHA regulations 1926.416(a) deal specifically with electrical issues in the construction industry and guidelines for the use of equipment and other sources of electricity such as overhead or buried power lines.

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