Electrocution at Work
Electrocution accidents occur throughout the nation, and mainly affect people who work in the fields of utility and construction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the construction industry makes up about eight percent of the U.S. workforce. However, it represents 44 percent of fatalities that occur on the job.
Among U.S. workers, electrical hazards are responsible for over 300 deaths and 4,000 injuries every year. And electrocution ranks sixth among the causes of workplace fatalities in the United States. Between 2003 and 2007, the two principal groups of workers who sustained the highest number of deadly electrocution accidents at work were those who worked in construction trades and in installation, maintenance and repair.
The use of heavy equipment
Based on a study conducted by the CDC, the electrocution industry accounts for 52 percent of all workplace electrocutions, many of which involve the use of heavy equipment, including overhead power contacts, cranes, drilling rigs, dump trucks, bucket trucks and backhoes. Over 90 percent of power line contact accidents are associated with overhead distribution conductors.
In addition to operators of heavy equipment, among the labor trades that have significant exposure to risk are:
- Roofing/siding/sheet metal contractors
- Tree trim contractors,
- Water/sewer/pipelines personnel and communication contractors
- Painting contractors
Many kinds of injuries can occur when electric currents strike the body. Due to the impact that electricity has on the heart, muscles and nerves, cardiac arrest can result. The current can cause tissue damage, or contact between the body and an electrical source can cause thermal burns. The seriousness of the injuries is dependent on the voltage of electricity, the individual’s health, the way in which the current moves through the body and the speed with which medical assistance is obtained.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are 1,000 fatalities in the United States annually because of electric shock. Several such incidents occur in the workplace, and they range from the use of old extension cords by office workers to construction workers being struck by lightning. Extension cords can produce electrical burns and shock when they have wires that are exposed. They can sustain damage on a construction site, and can be subject to wear and tear over time.
Electrocution accidents are preventable
Many electrocution accidents could be prevented if employers and utility companies used the most effective preventive maintenance, inspection and repair practices that are required under the law. For instance, employers can conduct inspections of work sites and make certain that extension cords are in good condition. If the cords are worn, cracked or frayed, they should be replaced.
How a workers’ compensation attorney can help
If you were injured at work, call the workers’ compensation attorneys at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. We will evaluate the facts of your case, and counsel you as to your rights. Because we only handle such cases on a contingency basis, payment is required only if we prevail in obtaining compensation for you.