Electricity travels in closed circuits, usually through a conductor. A conductor is a substance with little resistance to the flow of energy. Metal equipment, roofs, steps on a ladder, and even your body are potential conductors.
Electrical shock occurs when a person's body contacts an electrical circuit and provides a path for electricity to leave the circuit and travel to the ground. On the jobsite, this can happen when:
- You contact one wire of an energized circuit and the ground at the same time or,
- You touch equipment that's in contact with an energized wire while you're also in contact with the ground.
Lower voltages (and lower amperages) can cause muscle spasms that inhibit your ability to ‘let go’ of the object you’re touching that’s completing the circuit. The degree of injury increases with every second your body is conducting electricity.
Higher voltages (and higher amperages) can throw you clear, interrupting the circuit, but, injury or death can still result from the electrical shock or fall.
There is a risk of serious injury or death anytime you come into contact with an energized circuit, whether low or high voltage. That’s why it’s important to stay away from all energized conductors, thus avoiding contact with any electricity.
Additional overhead and digging guidelines, case studies, instructional videos, and training tools can all be found, at no charge to you, on Duke Energy’s e-SMARTworkers website.
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