Abstract of SD-No.25

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Japan

Basic Facts about Electric Shocks and Fatal Accident Statistics for the Last 30 Years

Norimitsu ICHIKAWA, Hajime TOMITA

:Electrical energy is a clean source of energy; however, electricity must be handled with care as there is a risk of accidents being caused by electric shocks. These mishaps mainly occur because workers may accidentally touch live wires or cables.
    Many of the important processes in the human body are regulated via the transmission of electrical signals; hence, when an electric current that is stronger than these signals flows through the body, the person becomes numb. This numbness normally occurs when an electric current of approximately 1 mA or more flows through the human body. For example, if an alternating current of 50 mA (or direct current of 150 mA) flows from the left hand of an individual to both his/her feet for more than 1 second, ventricular fibrillation and death result.
    With the establishment of the Industrial Safety and Health Act and the enforcement of the Industrial Safety and Health Regulations, there has been a decline in the number of fatal accidents caused by electric shocks. However, since such fatal accidents are bound to occur time and again, it is necessary to take preventative measures so as to prevent the loss of human life.
    Herein, we use expressions that can be easily understood by the general public. The contents of this document, once fully understood, are expected to be useful in reducing the possibility of fatal accidents caused by electric shocks. Awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of electricity will help minimize the number of fatal accidents caused by electric shocks.

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