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Life-changing or trivial: Electricians' views about electrical accidents

Journal article
Authors Sara Thomée
Kristina Jakobsson
Published in Work
Volume 60
Issue 4
Pages 573-585
ISSN 1051-9815
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Section of Occupational and environmental medicine
Department of Psychology
Pages 573-585
Language en
Keywords Electrical injury, occupational injury, psychology, qualitative research, trauma, work ability
Subject categories Environmental Health and Occupational Health, Psychology


© 2018 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved. BACKGROUND: It is well known that electrical accidents can cause physical injury. Less well known is that long-term consequences may include emotional and cognitive problems. OBJECTIVE: To explore electricians' experiences and perceptions of work-related electrical accidents, with focus on psychological short- and long-term consequences, including how contacts with health care services and the workplace were perceived. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews with 23 Swedish male electricians, aged 25-68, who had experienced at least one electrical accident and reported residual sensory, musculoskeletal, cognitive or emotional symptoms. Data was analyzed by means of qualitative content analysis. RESULTS: Immediate emotional reactions included surprise, confusion, fear, anxiety, and anger; also long-term consequences were seen. Experiencing a no-let-go situation was particularly stressful. The cause of the accident, and questions about guilt and blame were central in the aftermath. Lack of knowledge and routine among health care professionals concerning electrical injury was reported, as well as lack of medical and psychological follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: For some informants, the accident had been a life-changing event, while for others it was an event of little importance. Adequate handling at the workplace, and from health care personnel, including follow-up, could facilitate rehabilitation and return to work.

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