In the United States, the majority of electrocution injuries occur in occupational settings. These injuries can be complex and life-threatening.
According to the CDC, electrocution is more common in construction than in all other professions combined. It is one of OSHA’s “focus four” or “fatal four” occupational hazards. Electrocution can have a variety of effects on the body.
Skin burns are common with electrocution injuries, with the most severe damage often occurring at the current’s entry and exit points. Serious skin burns may require surgery or skin grafts.
Some electrical currents cause only minor burns. These can be deceiving, however, because an electrical current can cause serious internal damage while leaving only minor marks on the surface of the skin.
Internal injuries might not be obvious right away, so prompt medical attention is critical. Even a low-voltage injury can damage internal structures, especially the heart and nervous system. Symptoms of internal damage include:
- Numbness or tingling in extremities
- Irregular heartbeat
Following an electrocution injury, it is important to seek medical attention for any unusual sensations or symptoms, even if they seem unrelated to the injury.
It is common to lose balance and fall during or right after electrocution. This can lead to serious blunt-force injuries, including fractures and concussions.
Electrocution can have serious long-term impacts. Many people who have sustained an electrical injury continue to experience chronic issues, including seizures, memory problems, chronic pain or post-traumatic stress.
When working with electricity, it is important to practice safety precautions to prevent a devastating injury.