It goes without saying that electricity kills – and injures. For construction workers, the risk of electrocution is especially high due to the fact that you are surrounded by power tools, heavy machinery, large electrically-powered construction vehicles, and unfinished electrical systems every day. Per OSHA, of the 991 construction fatalities in 2016, 82 of them resulted from electrocution accidents. In fact, electrocutions rank second in OSHA’s “Fatal Four” list of accident categories as follows:
- Struck-by-object events
- Caught-in-between-object events
Electricity flows through conductors like power lines and electrical cords, creating a path and completing a circuit. When your body comes into contact with one of these flows, it becomes a conductor itself. Most 120 volt electrical circuits carry 15-20 amperes, 300 times the 50-100 milliamperes of electrical current needed to kill you.
Not only can electrocution accidents kill you, they also can shock you, severely burn you, and damage your skin and internal organs. Most such accidents occur as the result of one or more of the following:
- Faulty equipment
- Unsafe tools
- Exposed and/or improperly grounded wires
- Improper extension cord usage
- Contact with overhead lines by means of ladders, lifts, cranes, etc.
- Water hazards, including puddles and even rain or snow itself
- Poorly marked construction zones
- Poor lighting on construction sites or hard-to-reach places
Construction workers account for 61 per cent of all work-related electrocution fatalities. Laborers represent the largest number of victims, 23 per cent, with electrical workers representing 19 per cent. If you are between the ages of 35 and 44, you face a particularly high risk since members of your age group suffer the most electrocutions, 28.3 per cent.
Electrical parts, both faulty and non-faulty, are the leading sources of construction electrocutions, accounting for 52 per cent of them. Of these, power lines, transformers and converters represent 39 per cent. Another major cause of electrocutions is the improper use of extension and flexible power cords. As you know, cords age and become damaged through normal wear and tear. Door and window edges, staples and other fasteners also can damage them, leaving their wires exposed. Fixing the problem with electrical tape and by other means is a recipe for disaster. So is plugging a three-prong cord into a two-prong extension line or vice versa.
Nonfatal Electrocution Injuries
Coming into contact with an electrical current can injure you in the following four ways:
- Cardiac arrest
- Damage to your vital organs, muscles and nerves
Specifically, if you receive a nonfatal electrocution injury, you may well face any or all of the following:
- Nerve damage
- Severe headaches
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Cognitive problems such as decreased concentration, memory and attention span
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety and depression
Electrocution accidents are extremely serious events that require immediate medical assistance. Since most electrical injuries are internal, you cannot see them and consequently you will not necessarily realize the extent to which you have been injured. Depending on which parts of your body the electricity damages and the severity of that damage, your medical costs could skyrocket. You likewise could become disabled for life.
If you suffer an electrocution accident or your loved one died as the result of one, please call Richard A. Dubi toll-free at 833-FOR-DUBI (833-367-3824).