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Am J Ind Med. 1999 Mar;35(3):302-9.

Fatal occupational injuries among electric power company workers.

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1
Department of Epidemiology, Univesity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 27599, USA.

Abstract

Surveillance data suggest high rates of electrocutions and fatal falls among workers in electric utility companies, who may be exposed to electric current, heights, flammable agents, and frequent motor vehicle travel. To characterize the occurrence of fatal injuries among electric utility workers, we studied workers in five electric power companies in the United States. A cohort of 127,129 men hired between 1950 and 1986 was followed through 1988. Injuries at work were identified through manual review of death certificates. The occurrence of occupational injuries was analyzed with directly adjusted rates and Poisson regression. The overall rate of fatal occupational injuries was 13.20 per 100,000 person-years (n = 192), with 76% due to electric current, homicide, and falls from heights. Deaths were concentrated in a few groups with elevated injury rates, notably linemen (rate ratio (RR) 3.33), electricians (RR 2.79), and painters (RR 3.27). Occupations requiring daily work on elevations or frequent, direct contact with energized electrical equipment experienced markedly higher rates of fatal injury from falls and electrocutions with rate ratios of 21.8 (95% confidence interval (CI) 11.4-41.5) and 16.7 (95% CI 6.6-42.6), respectively, independent of worker age and seniority. Although fatal injury rates in this industry have declined in recent decades, significant numbers of deaths still occur. Based on the premise that all injuries are preventable, a need for continued vigilance and efforts at prevention is indicated.

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