CNESST Investigation Report of Fatal Electrical Accidents in 2018-2019

by Jan 5, 2021Electrical Safety

Even now in 2020, there are too many accidents caused by electric shocks in Quebec. This situation is due to several factors: whether because of lack of knowledge and understanding, lack of training, or gaps in occupational safety regulation.

According to the CNESST, between 2018 and 2019, eight fatal cases of electrocution were investigated. Following the analysis, they found that four of these cases were caused while completing tasks that are not of electrical nature, but rather by contact with overhead power lines.

  • The installation of gutters on a building, they bypass the 14.4 kV power line that runs along the side of the building. The worker receives an electric shock and dies.
  • A worker makes a delivery with a crane truck and during the transfer of cargo, the mast comes into contact with a live Hydro-Quebec overhead line. The worker receives an electric shock and dies.
  • A climber-pruner comes into contact with a 14.4 kV electric wire with their telescopic aluminum pruning saw. The worker receives an electric shock and dies.
  • As the cargo container of a dump truck moves and transfers asphalt into a paver, it approaches withing 3 meters of power lines. A contact is created between the wire and the box and the latter becomes energized with a 14.4 kV voltage. The worker touches the control crank located at the rear of the paver with their right hand while their left foot is in contact with the ground. The worker thus also becomes energized and dies.

The other four accidents occurred during tasks of electrical nature and performed by electricians.

  • Three of the four accidents occurred when an electrician was connecting a light fixture. The electrician receives a 347 V electric shock, falls from their stepladder, and dies.
  • A worker prepares to clean a production line using a high velocity pump. As they press their hands on the pump to close the valve used to purge the air, they are electrically shocked and die of their injuries.

An electrical accident is rarely caused by more than one factor. We are talking here, for example, of being distracted by someone or something, equipment failure, overtime, approaching vacation time, lack of training or knowledge, etc. But when working with electricity, you have to be extra careful.

Other than fatalities, there are also accidents with serious injuries from electric shock. CNESST statistics show that for files opened and accepted there is an increase of 18 workers who had an accident by contact with electric current from 2018 to 2019 (respectively 164 and 182). This is equivalent to a 10% increase in 2019. Prevention and training can never be excessive in the workplace, because remembering good work methods and respecting safety regulation saves lives.



CNESST, (2019). Statistiques annuelles 2019. Online:

CNESST, (2019). CNESST, Rapport d’enquête. Online:

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Intervention Prévention œuvre dans le domaine de la sécurité au travail en offrant des services spécialisés répondant aux normes CSA Z462 – Sécurité électrique en milieu de travail, CSA Z460 – Maîtrise des énergies dangereuses : Cadenassage et autres méthodes, et CSA Z432 – Protection des machines. Nos domaines d’expertise sont donc reliés au cadenassage, à la sécurité électrique et à la sécurité machine. La satisfaction de nos clients est le gage de notre compétence


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