Safe Design Critical to Reducing Electrical Injuries

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June 19, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: June 19 on

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), electrical hazards cause a workplace death almost every day. Between 2003 and 2009, contact with electric current was the seventh leading cause for an occupational fatality and electrical burns are the second most costly injury. According to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection data inquiry, electrical hazards are the Army”s most cited violation in FY 2016. However, these numbers do not include our forward deployed locations and the underreporting of electrical shocks.

In September 2016, the DoD Office of Inspector General (OIG) released their quarterly report that consisted of inspections completed in 2016. It determined that at least four forward deployed U.S. military-occupied locations did not comply with DoD health and safety policies. The DoD OIG identified significant deficiencies in electrical and fire protection systems as well as construction and maintenance concerns that, without attention, could affect the health, safety, and well-being of the warfighters.

At one location, the DoD OIG found 286 deficiencies in electrical and fire protection systems and of these deficiencies 77 were critical and required immediate corrective action.

Safe design is critical in protecting our warfighters, Army civilians, and contractors, as well as our facilities and equipment.  Using proven safe design strategies, the DoD Electrical Safety Working Group (ESWG) developed safe design tools to guide design, evaluation for acceptance, and acquisition for DoD”s equipment, facilities, ships, solar photovoltaic systems, and electric vehicles to reduce the probability of failure.

ESWG has developed checklists, electrical safety awareness training, identified deficiencies in training and developed the Electrical Hazard Classification Mobile Application e-Tool, found at the following link:, to allow identification of previously unrecognized electrical hazards in equipment, weapon systems, and facilities, as well as provide specific guidance for work control for both Civilian and Military applications. The group has also analyzed and identified cause of over 1,000 DoD electrical mishaps and developed specific prevention strategies.

Safe design and safe work practices help reduce the number of potential electrical near misses and accidents.