Accidental Deaths Caused by Electricity in Sweden, 1975–2000

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This study analyzes accidental fatalities caused by electricity—at work and during leisure time—to evaluate risk factors, the role of alcohol, and to identify possible preventive strategies. In Sweden, data on fatalities by electrocution from 1975 through 2000 were collected from the National Cause-of-Death Register. Additional cases were found in the archives of The Swedish National Electrical Safety Board. Suicides and deaths by lightning were excluded. Two hundred and eighty-five deaths were found, including occupational (n=132), leisure time (n=151), and unknown (n=2). Most deaths were caused by aerial power lines, and the most common place for an electrical injury was a railway area or residential property. Postmortem blood from 20% (n=47) of the tested cases was found positive for alcohol, and these persons were killed mainly during leisure time. During the study period, the overall incidence of electricity-related fatalities has decreased, in spite of increased use of electricity. This indicates that safety improvements have been successful.

Keywords: alcohol; electrocution; forensic science; leisure time; occupational

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Section of Forensic Medicine, Department of Community Health and Rehabilitation, Umeå University, PO Box 7616, SE-907 12 Umeå, Sweden. 2: The Umeå Accident Analysis Group, Emergency and Disaster Medical Centre, University Hospital Umeå, SE-901 85 Umeå, Sweden.

Publication date: November 1, 2006

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