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Electric shocks at work in Europe: development of a job exposure matrix
  1. Anke Huss1,2,
  2. Roel Vermeulen1,3,
  3. Joseph D Bowman4,
  4. Leeka Kheifets5,
  5. Hans Kromhout1
  1. 1Division Environmental Epidemiology, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  2. 2Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Switzerland
  3. 3Julius Centre for Public Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  4. 4National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  5. 5Department of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anke Huss, Division Environmental Epidemiology, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), Jenalaan 18d, Utrecht 3584 CK, The Netherlands; a.huss{at}


Objectives Electric shocks have been suggested as a potential risk factor for neurological disease, in particular for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. While actual exposure to shocks is difficult to measure, occurrence and variation of electric injuries could serve as an exposure proxy. We assessed risk of electric injury, using occupational accident registries across Europe to develop an electric shock job-exposure-matrix (JEM).

Materials and methods Injury data were obtained from five European countries, and the number of workers per occupation and country from EUROSTAT was compiled at a 3-digit International Standard Classification of Occupations 1988 level. We pooled accident rates across countries with a random effects model and categorised jobs into low, medium and high risk based on the 75th and 90th percentile. We next compared our JEM to a JEM that classified extremely low frequency magnetic field exposure of jobs into low, medium and high.

Results Of 116 job codes, occupations with high potential for electric injury exposure were electrical and electronic equipment mechanics and fitters, building frame workers and finishers, machinery mechanics and fitters, metal moulders and welders, assemblers, mining and construction labourers, metal-products machine operators, ships’ decks crews and power production and related plant operators. Agreement between the electrical injury and magnetic field JEM was 67.2%.

Conclusions Our JEM classifies occupational titles according to risk of electric injury as a proxy for occurrence of electric shocks. In addition to assessing risk potentially arising from electric shocks, this JEM might contribute to disentangling risks from electric injury from those of extremely low frequency magnetic field exposure.

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