From computer equipment to heavy machinery, almost everyone encounters electricity in the workplace. While it helps us get the job done, electricity can also pose a serious hazard to our health and safety. According to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), 1,640 workplace electrical injuries occurred in 2016 – and 154 fatalities.
The most frequently reported types of workplace electrical injuries
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports the following types of electrical hazards facing American workers:
An electric shock occurs when a person comes into contact with a power source, causing energy to flow throughout their body. Depending on the type and level of electrical current, electrical shock injuries can range from mild to serious. Extremely high voltage shocks can result in electrocution, which is death due to cardiac arrest.
Exposure to electrical current can cause significant burns to skin, hair, internal organs, or subdermal tissue. The electrical energy flowing through your body can destroy blood vessels, nerves, and muscle, sometimes without leaving much of an external marker.
When workers are perched on high locations and come into contact with electricity, such as in powerlines or machinery, they can suffer electrical shocks that cause them to fall from great heights. Falls can carry devastating long-term consequences, including neurological damage or musculoskeletal disorders.
High-risk industries for electrocution injuries
While anyone can suffer an electrocution injury at work, construction workers run the highest risk of any industry. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 53% of workplace electrical fatalities occur in construction. This industry is comprised of roofers, carpenters, and laborers, but the most at-risk construction workers are electricians, who account for over half of electrical injuries suffered in the field.
People who work in the installation, maintenance, and repair industry also have a higher risk of electrical shocks or burns. Those who work with power lines, telecommunications systems, HVAC units, and industrial machinery are repeatedly exposed to wiring, transformers, and other electrical components that can cause serious harm.
Common causes of workplace electrical injuries
NIOSH reports the following common causes of workplace electrical injuries and fatalities:
Direct contact with a powerline
Electricians aren’t the only workers who are exposed to overhead powerlines. Sign technicians, tree trimmers, and telecommunications specialists are also at risk of electrical injury from powerlines that haven’t been properly insulated.
Indirect contact with a powerline
Workers operating lifts, cranes, or trucks are in danger of electrocution if their equipment touches a powerline. Observing OSHA regulations, such as minimum clearance distances and designated lookouts, can reduce the risk of injury.
Direct contact with electrical equipment
Dangerous electrical currents can be emitted from machinery or equipment that’s routinely used on the job. If lockout/tagout procedures aren’t followed correctly prior to servicing or maintenance work, electrical injury can occur.
Improperly installed or damaged electrical equipment
Faulty wiring, improper grounding, or even damaged extension cords create hazardous conditions, exposing workers to potential shock or electrocution.
What to do if you’ve suffered an electrical injury on the job
If you’ve suffered from an electrical burn, shock, or related fall, your first priority is to seek medical attention. Left untreated, electrical injuries can be painful, debilitating, and potentially life threatening – and sometimes, the full extent of the damage may not be immediately obvious.
Once you’ve been examined by a physician, it’s time to record the details of your injury, including where you were, what you were doing, and who you were with. If possible, take photos of the accident site, and any visible injuries you may have sustained. This evidence will be helpful in filing a claim for workers’ compensation. You should also speak to a qualified attorney who can advise you about pursuing an electrical shock lawsuit to help offset any hardship you may have endured.
San Diego electrocution lawyer Gerald Brody can help you seek compensation
If you’ve suffered an electrical injury on the job, the highly qualified attorneys at Gerald Brody and Associates can help you determine your next steps. Our practice is exclusively devoted to handling workplace injury and workers’ compensation cases, including electrocution settlements.
Call us at (619) 528-9800 for more information.