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Electric shocks at work in Europe: development of a job exposure matrix

Abstract

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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