Construction workers face many hazards when they go to work on construction sites each morning – there are trip hazards, risks of equipment failure and potential falls from dangerous heights. In addition, with multiple workers using a variety of electric power tools, potential contact with buried and overhead power lines, new wiring being installed, and the combination of exposed wiring and ever-changing weather conditions, the risk of electrocution and electric shock is high on construction sites. In fact, OSHA (the Occupational Safety & Health Administration) states that electrocution is one of the four most common perils on construction sites.
Construction work is inherently dangerous—the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists it as one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States. In the construction industry, electrocution hazards are responsible for 411 deaths annually, on average. That’s about 9% of all construction fatalities. There are also five to 10 electric shocks suffered from accidental contact with an electrical circuit daily. As Richmond workers’ compensation attorneys, we believe it’s critical that employees know how to work around electricity safely, and that employers enforce safe work habits.
An electric shock occurs when an electric current passes through the body. An electric shock is an electrical injury from which a person recovers; electrocution is an electrical accident that causes a person’s death.
The severity of an electrical injury depends on three things:
Note that even low-voltage shocks are extremely dangerous. Any type of electric shock can result in external burns and blistering of the skin in addition to injury of internal organs. Cases of severe electric shock can result in death if medical intervention isn’t administered quickly.
If you suffer an electric shock injury at your workplace or while you’re on a job site―whether it’s a construction site or other job location―here’s what to do: