We rely on electricity in almost every aspect of our daily lives, but we often underestimate its ability to cause injury. BSU students, faculty and staff need to be aware of the hazards electricity poses, such as shock, fire and explosion and know how to either eliminate or control these hazards.

Shock vs. Electrocution

Electrical shock occurs when an electrical current passes through the body, either by touching both wires of an energized circuit, touching one wire while standing unprotected or touching a metal part that has become energized. Electrical shock can cause forceful muscle contraction or falls.

Electrocution is the injury or death caused by an electrical current. The severity of the injury depends on the amount of current, the path it takes through the body, the duration of the current’s flow and the frequency of the current.


Fire and explosion hazards can be caused by electrical issues such as:

  • Overloading circuits or excessive current in wiring
  • Faulty outlets resulting in poor contact or arcing
  • Poor wiring connections or damaged, old wiring

Explosions can also occur when an electrical spark ignites a flammable gas or dust mixture in the air, or from a short circuit or static charge.

Electrical Safety Basics

  • Extension cords should only be used temporarily and removed after use.
  • Use surge protectors with built-in circuit breakers for long-term use.
  • Make sure electrical equipment is properly connected, grounded and in good working condition.
  • Do not work with exposed conductors carrying 50 volts or more.
  • High amp equipment like space heaters and portable air conditioners must be plugged directly into permanent wall outlets.
  • Do not access or alter building electrical service unless qualified and authorized to do so.
  • Be aware of the increased risk of electrical shock in wet environments.
  • Do not use electrical cords or extension cords with frayed or exposed wiring.