In this video, at time 11:35, (and in other places), there is a very vague claim about a common impression that European wiring is safer than (North) American, with an equally vague refutation of that claim. What are the details of this commonly expressed idea?
A few things that immediately strike me.
- American plugs have no protection against people or items touching the live pin(s) if the plug is partially withdrawn from the socket. Most European plugs protect against this either through pain insulation or through having the socket at the bottom of the recessed cavity.
- Until relatively recently the Americans used combined neutral and Earth connections in some domestic wiring (IIRC subpanels, ranges and clothes driers). If a combined Neutral and Earth conductor breaks you can easily develop dangerous voltages on exposed metalwork.
- While the lower voltage does reduce the risks posed by electric shocks it also means increased currents which can lead to increase fire risks.
- Lots more exposed metal inside enclosures, americans don't sleeve their earth wires and their sockets have exposed live screws, it seems the only thing stopping them touching is the neatness with which the wiring is inserted into the box. You can take the lid off a modern European DB and you would still have to go out of your way to touch live parts while the American breaker panels I have seen pictures of have lots of live metal exposed to direct touch.
Of course there are issues on the European side too.
- Earthed plugs will often fit in non-earthed sockets or sockets using a different earthing system in such a way that the appliance receives live and Neutral connections but not an Earth connection.
- Accessories are often designed in such a way that they are mounted to the plate, so you can't see what is happening to the wiring as you push it into the box.
A lot of other stuff depends on exactly where in Europe you are comparing to, for example here in the UK a socket without a proper earth would be considered virtually unthinkable, but from what I can gather in both mainland Europe and north America they are relatively common.
The remark in the video seems to answer comments made on other videos from European viewers who thought the Canadian system lacks earthing / grounding; the people in the video are explaining that that's not the case for new or recent construction.
(Their other remark is just a little humor, in Canada they have LOTS of earth - that is, Canada covers a lot of ground, it's a big country.)
The National Electrical Code (NEC) and Canadian Electrical Code (CEC), which are adopted in various forms throughout the US and Canada, are rule sets that generally ensure a reasonably safe electrical system.
The bare wire they are screwing to the box in the video - part of what the NEC and CEC call the "equipment grounding system" - was not always required in the US, and many older systems still in service do not have that safety ground. So the people in the video are just correcting a misunderstanding that came up in the comments.
It's fair to say that in some respects the north American systems are less safe than European systems, but in others the north American systems are safer. For example, in the North American systems, much more of the system is at 120V to ground, where the UK system is at 230V to ground.