The following information is from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) publication 3075, Controlling Electrical Hazards, available at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/3075.html or https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3075.pdf.
Effects of Electric Current
What effect do shocks have on the body?
An electric shock can result in anything from a slight tingling
sensation to immediate cardiac arrest. The severity depends on the
This table shows the general relationship between
the amount of current received and the reaction when current flows from
the hand to the foot for just 1 second.
- the amount of current flowing through the body,
- the current's path through the body,
- the length of time the body remains in the circuit, and
- the current's frequency.
Effects of Electric Current in the Human Body
|Below 1 milliampere
||Generally not perceptible
|| Slight shock felt; not painful but disturbing.
Average individual can let go. Strong involuntary reactions can lead to
| 6–25 milliamperes (women)
|| Painful shock, loss of muscular control*
|9–30 milliamperes (men)
||The freezing current or " let-go" range.*
Individual cannot let go, but can be thrown away from the circuit if
extensor muscles are stimulated.
||Extreme pain, respiratory arrest, severe muscular contractions. Death is possible.
||Rhythmic pumping action of the heart ceases. Muscular contraction and nerve damage occur; death likely.
||Cardiac arrest, severe burns; death probable
* If the extensor muscles are excited by the shock, the person may be thrown away from the power source.
Source: W.B. Kouwenhoven, " Human Safety and Electric Shock," Electrical
Safety Practices, Monograph, 112, Instrument Society of America, p. 93.