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J Burn Care Res. 2010 Mar-Apr;31(2):333-40. doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e3181d0f5cb.

An effective prevention program to reduce electrical burn injuries caused by the use of multimeters.

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Electrical Safety Authority, Department of Regulatory Affairs, Ontario, Canada.


The purpose of this study was to determine the circumstances of electrical burn injuries caused by the use of multimeters among electricians and electrical apprentices in Ontario and to develop a burn prevention program to reduce them. A survey to investigate electrical injuries caused by multimeters was mailed in June 2004 to 5000 Ontario electricians and electrical apprentices. A high voltage laboratory tested the effectiveness of fused leads to reduce multimeters malfunction. The results of the survey and laboratory tests helped to implement a burn prevention program. Then, a mail fused leads multimeter exchange program was implemented, and proposals to improve the multimeters standard were made to the Canadian Standards Association. Nine hundred (18%) workers responded the survey. There were 801 (89%) electricians, 81 (9%) electrical apprentices, and 27 (3%) with other qualifications. Ninety-nine (11%) had a multimeter fail during use, and half of them suffered critical burns. Causes of the injury were operator error (59%), wrong category rating (21%), defective equipment (18%), and others (2%). More than 2000 electrical contractors acquired the new fused leads multimeters. There were no critical injuries caused by multimeters in the years 2006, 2007, and 2008 (January to August) in Ontario. Understanding the cause of electrical burn injuries by multimeters and engaging members of the integrated electrical safety system in a multifaceted prevention program were effective in reducing electrical burn injuries. Fused leads multimeters proved to be effective in preventing most common user errors and electrical burn injuries caused by multimeters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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