Study identifies 3 factors behind electric shock


Earlier this year Technical Safety BC and Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants conducted an electric shock fault tree fault tree workshop to evaluate potential causes of electric shock risks, and make recommendations to address the key causal factors behind those risks.

Workshop participants identified three causal factors for electric shock:

  1. Technical Safety BC does not retain a record of all certified journeymen or apprentices working in the province, nor does it track the extent of, or content of, continuing education programs. This lack of oversight allows electrical workers and contractors to undertake work for which they lack the appropriate level of knowledge and experience.
  2. Due to the nature of work in the electrical industry, with large numbers of small or independent contractors, a lack of education and understanding on the part of these smaller organizations was contributing to the overall risk in the province.
  3. Potential interference with dangerous electrical systems on the part of the general public or untrained workers has always posed a risk.

At the end of the workshop, eight recommendations were made to address the factors identified in the fault tree. The recommendations will consider the following:

  1. Developing a program to promote the existing reporting processes for incidents and near misses (under both Technical Safety BC and WorkSafeBC).
  2. Developing and including material that covers the existing requirements and method for reporting incidents and near misses at the curriculum level for electrical apprentices, and at other opportunities.
  3. Researching and acquiring more external data sources to support targeted risk treatment activities.
  4. Reviewing the current curriculum for apprenticeship and certification with the intent to develop content to improve understanding of isolation procedures and verification and testing procedures.
  5. Creating and promoting an e-learning course to address the same content as in recommendation #4. Making this a requirement for FSR renewal, as well as making the content available to apprentices/journey people without FSR certification. Partnering with industry associations and trainers to allow the material to be widely disseminated.
  6. Improving the existing oversight model of electrical contractors and asset owners to close the current gap related to journey people not having workplace-appropriate knowledge or training or not maintaining that training. Currently, FSRs are certified and tracked by Technical Safety BC, but journeymen and apprentices are not tracked or directly monitored in any way.
  7. Creating a general awareness campaign to improve public knowledge of shock risks, similar to the ‘Call before you dig’ program. Partnering with other organizations to promote the program as widely as possible.
  8. Creating an orientation program for contractors/asset owners/operators (potentially tied to issuance/renewal of license/operating permit) that addresses identified issues.

The workshop is part of a Technical Safety BC project meant to detect and mitigate emerging and known technical safety risks in the province. Aside from electric shock, the other risks being analyzed include carbon monoxide exposureammonia release, and escalator brake failure, entrapments and pile ups. The project uses the fault tree method which starts with choosing a final event such as electric shock and working backwards to identify all the causes  that could have led to the event.

Read the Electric Shock Fault Tree Study

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