Electricity is one of the great inventions of the past century, but there’s no getting around the fact that it can be extremely dangerous if it’s not handled properly. Electricity is something that demands respect — especially on construction sites, where workers often work with temporary electrical poles and power lines.
According to government statistics, electrocutions are the fourth leading cause of fatal construction site accidents. Each year, about 143 construction workers are killed due to electrocution accidents. Construction workers who are hurt due to electrocutions have important rights and may be able to receive compensation for their injuries. Furthermore, the family members of construction workers killed in electrocution accidents may be entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim against those responsible for the accident.
Which Types of Construction Workers Have the Highest Risk of Electrocution?
Anyone who has ever visited a construction site knows that they are busy places. Many different types of construction workers are involved in the construction of a building or other structure. These workers specialize in specific parts of the construction process. Certain types of construction workers have a higher risk of being injured or killed due to an electrocution accident.
Studies show that certain kinds of construction professionals have a higher incidence of electrocution accidents. In a study of 1,715 deaths of electrocution-related construction deaths, statistics show that electrical workers have the highest rate of electrocution accidents at 34 percent of all electrocution fatalities. Laborers followed at 16 percent of all electrocution deaths. Carpenters and roofers also had a high risk of being involved in an electrocution accident.
Any construction site has the potential to expose construction workers to electricity. Many tools and pieces of equipment require electricity to operate. This is why it’s so critical for any type of construction worker to receive appropriate safety training for the use of electricity on a job site. It’s also important for construction workers to have access to appropriate safety gear and equipment if they are required to work with or around electricity.
Top Causes of Construction Site Electrocution Accidents
Any time electricity is present on a construction site, catastrophic accidents can occur. Research reveals that certain types of accidents involving electricity happen more often than others. Having this information could ideally enable construction companies to take additional steps to ensure safety on construction sites.
Electrical wiring and equipment accidents – 58 percent
Overhead power lines – 34 percent
Machinery and appliances – 4 percent
Lighting and underground buried power lines – 3 percent
Unfortunately, construction companies sometimes cut corners when it comes to safety. When construction companies care more about their bottom line than worker safety, serious accidents can occur.
How to Prevent Electrocutions on Construction Sites
There are many ways construction companies can reduce the number of electrocution accidents on construction sites. Safety experts also point out that construction workers should take steps to work as safely as possible when they’re on the job.
Electrical workers should:
Make sure they “tag out” or de-energize any electrical circuits if they plan on working around them.
Work under the proper permitting system anytime they must work on live electrical parts or systems.
Always wear the appropriate safety equipment when working around electricity.
Use the proper tools whenever working around electricity or testing electrical circuits.
Construction contractors should:
Adhere to all Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations at all times.
Ensure that all construction workers receive the proper safety training with respect to electrical safety.
Work with utility companies to make sure that power lines are de-energized or insulated when appropriate.
Only work under the correct permitting system when working with electrical lines or systems.
Construction workers should:
Never work with electricity without the appropriate training.
Always use the correct safety equipment and tools when working with electricity.
Stay at least 10 feet away from power lines while on the job.
Keep any metal tools or objects clear of electrical parts or circuits.
Inspect electrical cords or cables for fraying or other types of damage.
Disconnect tools or machinery from electricity before performing repairs or inspections.
Many of the safety guidelines for working with electricity seem like common sense tips, but it’s important to remember that construction workers are often under a lot of pressure to work quickly. When workers are pushed to finish tasks under a tight or unrealistic schedule, they may worry about losing their jobs if they don’t perform tasks in a certain way or within a specific timeframe. Unfortunately, this is how people get seriously injured and even killed on construction sites.
If you or a loved one has been injured by electricity on a construction site, it’s important to protect your rights by speaking to a construction site accident lawyer as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved.