Many people are aware there is an inherent risk for on-the-job injuries for construction workers. Electrocution account for 8.2 percent of the industry’s fatalities, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Electrocutions are the second leading cause of occupational-related deaths for construction workers. With all that goes on at worksites across California and elsewhere, not all such accidents can be prevented. However, there are several things people can do to help improve their safety and reduce their risk of electrical shock while working construction.
USE EQUIPMENT AS INTENDED
Accidents happen for various reasons. Whether they are trying to rush a job, do not have the appropriate equipment or simply are not properly trained, some construction workers may use electrical gear in ways it was not designed for. This may damage the equipment, which could result in workers suffering electrical shocks. These types of workers’ compensation cases are some of the worst. Therefore, employees in the construction industry are advised to only use electrical gear for its intended use. Any equipment that is modified, altered or fabricated should be in compliance with the OSHA standards.
STAY CLEAR OF POWER LINES
There are often overhead and buried power lines on construction sites carrying high voltage. Coming into contact with these lines, with equipment or their bodies, could result in burns or other injuries, as well as death. To avoid touching live power lines, workers are advised to locate all lines and post warning signs for them. Further, they should make sure any buried lines near where they are working are grounded or de-energized. OSHA recommends that workers keep a distance of at least 10 feet between themselves and power lines while they are working. At Bentley & More we have handled dozens of electrocution cases for injured workers.
GROUND THE POWER SUPPLY
When power supplies are left ungrounded, fault currents may surge through the bodies of workers who touch them. Therefore, it is important for those working on construction sites to visually inspect any electrical gear before using it. They should make certain that it is not damaged or in disrepair. Additionally, construction workers are advised to check that all of the electrical circuits, power supply systems and equipment they are using are grounded to help avoid suffering an electrical shock in the workplace.
USE GROUND-FAULT PROTECTION
The nature of the work on construction sites can be hard on electrical equipment, resulting in normal wear and tear. This may lead to short-circuits, insulation breaks and exposed wires, which could cause electrical shocks for workers. Having ground-fault protection, however, may provide a buffer and reduce people’s risk of being electrocuted. In addition to inspecting the equipment for signs of damage or defects before using it, workers are also advised to use equipment that is double-insulated.
Suffering electrical shock at a California construction site may result in serious injuries or death for workers. While they may be eligible for workers’ compensation, the process of obtaining those benefits is not always straightforward. Thus, it may benefit those who have suffered injuries in electrocution accidents while on the job to seek legal counsel. Our attorneys at Bentley & More will guide them through the claims process and help make sure they receive the assistance to which they are entitled. Electrocutions are very serious and require the best medical attention possible.