Electrical Injuries

Exponent has the capability to evaluate injury scenarios that include high- and low-voltage shock, electrocution, electrical stimulation, and the effects of radiofrequency fields. We can evaluate the injury potential associated with AC and DC voltages, including aspects of battery use and failure modes. Our services also include site surveys, analysis of injuries sustained (both acute and post-acute), examination of physical evidence, testing of theoretical scenarios and alternative designs, and destructive testing of exemplar equipment.

Electrical injury can take the form of thermal burn, arc-flash injury, and arc-blast injury. Reconstruction of the event can be complicated. The personnel involved might have limited recall of the actual event, and evidence of electrical injury might be masked, for example, by burn injuries created by a secondary fire. Detailed analyses of medical records are incorporated with knowledge of human tolerance, results of site surveys, and results of engineering analyses, to determine the primary and any other mechanisms of injury, and the expected extent of injury.

Projects in the electrical injury area have included the analysis of high-voltage injuries associated with power distribution lines, alleged skin burns from cell phones and wrist-worn GPS units, and fatalities alleged to result from lithium ion battery malfunction.

Exponent biomechanical and electrical engineers have been relied upon to analyze less lethal electronic restraint devices employed by law enforcement personnel. These devices typically operate at high voltages, high frequencies, and low currents to stimulate and immobilize the musculoskeletal system. Exponent has refined the method of accurately determining the output power delivered to a load, measured the accuracy of darts fired by different manufacturers, and evaluated whether muscular contractions elicited by the stimulus would be harmful.

Exponent offers consultants who are licensed engineers and senior members of the IEEE, as well as experienced bioengineers who specialize in electrical injury.