Four Deaths in Missouri and Kansas Lead the U.S. Department of Labor Urging Midwest Employers to Emphasize Electrical Safety

Four Deaths in Missouri and Kansas Lead the U.S. Department of Labor Urging Midwest Employers to Emphasize Electrical Safety

Statistics show a one year increase of 3.75 percent in fatal worker electrocutions in 2019.

Electrical hazards killed four workers in Missouri and Kansas in a five month span in 2021. According to a press release, one was a 40-year-old electrical contractor replacing light fixtures in Sedalia, Missouri, on October 4. On September 23, A 22-year-old worker’s life was taken while cleaning a Higbee pig barn with a pressure washer. In Wichita, Kansas, a 41-year-old doing heating and air conditioning work on July 13 and a month earlier, a 35-year-old electrical contractor climbing a pole in Lawrence, Kansas, on June 8. Their stories and circumstances are different. However, they were all caused by electrocution.

While the U.S. DOL’s OSHA continues to investigate all of the employer-reported deaths, the agency is alerting all employers to review safe electrical work practices with their employees in response to a nationwide increase in workplace deaths by electrocution. It is reported nationally that there is a 3.75 percent increase – 166 workplace deaths related to electrocution – in 2019 over the previous year. From November 6, 2018 through October 3, 2021, OSHA investigated 12 electrical-related deaths in Missouri and Kansas.

“Recent tragedies in Missouri and Kansas are reminders of the danger of electrical exposures in the workplace,” said OSHA’s Acting Regional Administrator Billie Kizer in Kansas City, Missouri. “OSHA’s electrical standards are designed to protect employees from electric shock and electrocution. Employers should implement safety and health programs, and are required to train workers on identifying hazards and use required protective measures to ensure all employees end each workday safely.”

OSHA also has a local emphasis program in the St. Louis area for electrical hazards in industry and an alliance agreement to promote electrical safety with the Iowa Department of Workforce Development and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 55.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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