Age Distribution Patterns

A report by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents estimated that in 2002 there were 2788 accidents involving electricity in British homes. Between April 2005 and April 2006, statistics compiled by the Health and Safety Executive demonstrated 11 work related electrocutions. In the same period, electric current exposure produced 119 serious injuries in the workplace and 365 absences from work of over three days.

Electrical injuries appear to follow a bimodal age distribution pattern4.

The first peak occurs in children younger than six years who possess an inquisitive nature. Most injuries in this group involve domestic appliances in the home. As a consequence electrical injuries in young children tend to be low voltage (see later). Chewing through electrical cables is a common mechanism of injury in toddlers resulting in potentially disfiguring intra oral burns.

The second peak occurs in early adulthood and is accounted for by deaths in the construction and electrical industries. In the United States, the census for fatal occupational injury between 1992 and 1999 demonstrated that fatal electrocutions were highest in the construction industry followed by mining and then forestry5,6.

Most deaths occurred in young men between 24-30 years with a mortality peak in the summer months. The leading cause of death in the construction industry is falls, followed by electrocution.

Results of Canadian study

A Canadian study of electrical and lightning related deaths and injuries among children and youth calculated an annual rate of electrical death between the ages of 0-19 years to be 0.045 per 100 000. During the 5 year period of the study, 606 cases of electrical injury were reported. All but one of the 21 deaths occurred in boys. The mean age for high voltage injury was 13.2 years7.