The Shocking Truth of Electrical Injuries in the Construction Field
Employers are expected to obey workplace safety standards laid out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Unfortunately, even if your boss is fully compliant with these standards (and few employers are), accidents can still happen. Falls from ladders and scaffolding are well known to be the leading cause of injury or death in construction, but nearly as many injuries come from another source—electricity.
There are many ways a worker can become exposed to electricity. Some are as simple as standing in water that has an electrical current running through it or getting struck by lightning. Others occur when a ladder or vehicle comes in direct contact with power lines or exposed wire. Many electrocutions occur when a metal object, like a ladder, pipe, or wire, becomes energized by electricity and a worker touches that object.
If you have been injured in an accident involving an electric shock, you might be eligible to receive financial compensation in the form of workers’ compensation benefits or a personal injury negligence lawsuit. This compensation can pay for medical expenses, lost wages, ongoing care (including therapy), home renovations required for your recovery or disability, and in some cases pain and emotional suffering—depending on the extent of your injuries.
Common Injuries Caused by Electrical Hazards
Electric shock accidents account for an estimated 400 work-related deaths per year in the United States, and thousands of other workers are injured as a result of exposure to electricity. Electrical injuries vary in severity, depending on the wattage and length of the exposure involved. The greater the wattage and the longer a worker is exposed to it, the worse the outcome of the following:
- Burns (first to third degree)
- Skin lacerations
- Muscle paralysis
- Heart problems (arrhythmia to complete heart failure)
- Brain trauma
One of the most important ways a worker can stay safe and protect himself from electrocution is by simply increasing his awareness on a work site. By knowing what can cause electrocution and what hazardous situations look like, he can avoid dangerous scenarios and protect himself and his co-workers.
OSHA’s straightforward regulation is that your employer must take precautions to keep you safe around electricity. Stipulations of this safety standard include:
- Prohibiting you from working in an environment that could expose you to a power circuit, unless that circuit is de-energized, grounded, or otherwise protected by insulation.
- Informing you of any hidden or underground power lines before you begin work in an area. In addition, your employer must provide you with information on potential hazards from these lines and how to protect yourself from these hazards.
- Guarding live electrical equipment. If a circuit or line operates above 50 volts, the live parts of the equipment must be properly guarded from unqualified personnel. This must be accomplished via minimum elevation off the floor (eight feet), partitions, or other enclosures to ensure that no one is accidentally exposed. For equipment that operates on more than 600 volts, a lock-secured metal enclosure or vault is required, along with sufficient warning signage to keep unauthorized personnel from accidental exposure.
Discharging Electrifying Workers’ Compensation Myths
No matter how you experienced your electrical injury, if you were shocked while performing your work duties, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation. Your injuries may be minor, but they can still cause you to lose wages and gain medical bills. Your best chance of obtaining the financial compensation you need to balance these effects is to have competent legal counsel on your side. The right personal injury lawyer can help you get the money you deserve.
Whether you plan to seek compensation from the state’s workers’ compensation system or by filing a personal injury lawsuit, obtaining the full amount of financial compensation you deserve can be difficult and could require a fight. Your chances for a successful recovery are greater if you have an experienced and aggressive lawyer, like Steve Lee, fighting on your behalf. To schedule a FREE consultation with a local attorney who has more than 35 years of experience in this area, call our office today at 800-232-3711. Or you can complete the short Quick Contact form on this page and we’ll get in touch with you as quickly as possible.