Electrocution on the job is a hazard for many workers in Walnut Creek, CA, and around the bay area. Fatality records indicate that for construction workers, it is the second leading cause of workplace deaths; for all U.S. occupations, it ranks fifth. A worker can suffer electrocution any time they, their equipment or a tool touches live power, such as an overhead high voltage supply line.
Causes of Workplace Electrocution
Part of the problem for construction workers is that they often work with tall metal equipment, such as towers, ladders, and scaffolding. If those objects touch or collide with live overhead power lines or another source, electrocution can occur in a split second. Trucks mounted with cranes or towers are hazardous if a simple moment of inattention results in touching an overhead wire. Digging equipment can also present the same hazard if there is an accident with an underground live power wire. Front-end loaders, dump trucks and fork lift machines can tip when unbalanced and come to rest up on a source of live electricity.
During the course of work, electrocution can happen instantly if a worker is moving their ladder and makes contact with electricity. Unloading supplies from ladders or trucks is another time when electrocutions happen. When scaffolding fails and collapses, workers can be thrown off and injured or killed, or the metal structures can come into contact with electricity and become a conduit for that electricity, resulting in electrocution.
Another reason for workplace electrocution is poor maintenance of equipment. Live wires that are improperly grounded or faulty can cause electrocution accidents. Poor lighting interferes with visibility of high wires or other electrical equipment. Defective tools and power cords are another common source for a potential electrocution accident.
Many serious injuries are caused by accidental electrical contact:
- Broken bones or fractures from impact or falling
- Internal injuries
- Nervous system damage
- Burns and shocks
- Wrongful death
Who is Likely to Injured by Electrocution?
Statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety show that about 400 fatal electrocutions occur each year at construction worksites and many other nonfatal injuries from electricity, like burns and broken bones.
Almost all electrocutions that happen on the job involve male workers. Those workers are younger, aged 20-34, and primarily Caucasian, American Indian or African-American workers. Most deaths occurred in the summer months, the prime time for construction activities. The South has a higher incidence of electrocution, because warmer weather allows for longer construction seasons. Industries that show a higher rate of electrocution deaths include: construction, mining, fishing, agriculture and forestry. Workers at highest risk are those who work in the electrical trades or for utilities. Earth drillers also are at higher risk.
Smaller companies with less than 10 workers have a risk of electrocution on the job that is similar to that of construction companies with over 100 employees. While the larger companies may be working in more places and thus are exposed to greater risks overall, the smaller companies may lack some knowledge about safety precautions that can cause higher risk for their small crew.
The OSHA Training Institute has published a comprehensive PDF file online about electrocution prevention, called Construction Focus Four: Electrocution Hazards. It is an Instructor Guide based on the acronym BESAFE. This defines electrical hazards as a serious problem that can cause dangerous injuries from Burns, Electrocution, Shock, Arc flash or blast, Fire and Explosions.
Taking the time to focus on worker safety must include the topic of electrocution hazards. Just being more aware of the problems caused by electricity, high power lines and faulty power tools could help reduce accidents and fatalities. Workers need to understand the importance of avoiding contact with live electrical power sources, including minimum clearing distances to stay away from overhead power wires. Use of protective safety equipment and clothing is also recommended.
Being injured or killed on the job causes financial problems, including high medical bills and loss of income. An accident can be devastating, but you may be entitled to obtain compensation for your damages under personal injury law. Our attorneys are experienced with workplace electrocution accidents and can help you determine what your best course of action is now.
If you or a loved one has experienced a workplace electrocution accident, be sure to call our Walnut Creek, CA, law office and make an appointment to discuss your case with our electrocution accident attorneys. Act quickly, to protect your rights and to meet any statute of limitations restrictions that might apply to your personal injury case.