Burns and Other Injuries

The most common shock-related injury is a burn. Burns suffered in electrical accidents may be of three types: electrical burns, arc burns, and thermal contact burns.

Electrical burns

Electrical burns are the result of the electric current flowing through tissues or bone. Tissue damage is caused by the heat generated by the current flow through the body. Electrical burns are one of the most serious injuries you can receive and should be given immediate attention.

Arc or flash burns

Arc or flash burns, on the other hand, are the result of high temperatures near the body and are produced by an electric arc or explosion. They should also be attended to promptly.

Thermal contact burns

Finally, thermal contact burns are those normally experienced when the skin comes in contact with hot surfaces of overheated electric conductors, conduits, or other energized equipment. Additionally, clothing may be ignited in an electrical accident and a thermal burn will result. All three types of burns may be produced simultaneously.

Electric current, even as low as three milliamperes, can also cause injuries of an indirect or secondary nature in which involuntary muscle reaction from the electric shock can cause bruises, bone fractures, and even death resulting from collisions or falls. In some cases, injuries caused by electric shock can be a contributory cause of delayed fatalities.

In addition to shock and burn hazards, electricity poses other dangers. For example, when a short circuit occurs, hazards are created from the resulting arcs. If high current is involved, these arcs can cause injury or start a fire. Extremely high-energy arcs can damage equipment, causing fragmented metal to fly in all directions. Even low-energy arcs can cause violent explosions in atmospheres that contain flammable gases, vapors, or combustible dusts.

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