Key Takeaways

- This study takes a deeper look at electrical tasks, going beyond statistics, to explore task-specific information from practitioners’ perspectives to enhance the quality of pretask planning during the process of electrical operations.

- This project identifies high-risk electrical tasks and explores work factors constituting at-risk working conditions for each activity. It then introduces innovative controls to recognize and mitigate hazards.

- The findings of this study emphasize the importance of proper lockout/tagout as the centerpiece of risk control practices in electrical work. It further discusses the application of advanced technologies to enhance the quality of hazard recognition.


Electrical construction is identified as a high-risk trade, and electricians accounted for about 8% of all fatalities in the construction industry in 2019 (BLS, 2021). Electrical operations are typically highly technical and complex, and electricians can be exposed to various hazards that can lead to injuries and fatalities. Electrocution is known as one of the leading causes of fatalities in electrical construction as well as other trades (OSHA, 2011). Other analyses report contact with overhead power lines, faulty wiring, contact with energized equipment, improper PPE and faulty construction tools as the leading causes of occupational injuries involving electric shock (Casini, 1993; Doan, 2019; Hinze et al., 1998).

Although electricians are at a higher risk of injury and fatality due to electrical incidents compared to other trades, the impact of these incidents is wide-ranging. Other work groups including laborers, structural metalworkers, painters, roofers and linemen also experience an increased risk of injury and fatality due to contact with electricity (Casini, 1993; Ore & Casini, 1996; Suruda, 1988).

Despite the importance, limited research has been conducted to delve deeper into the mechanism of incidents and explore underlying factors contributing to the increased burden of electrical injuries and fatalities in construction. Studies that have attempted to fill this gap have some limitations. A 2009 study examined workers’ compensation claims to identify the causal factors of nonfatal injuries involving contact with electricity (Lombardi et al., 2009). A similar investigation was performed in 2013 based on BLS data. However, these studies included all industry sectors, limiting their applicability to construction (Cawley & Brenner, 2013).

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