Exposure to electricity is a significant cause of construction worker deaths in America. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 166 people lost their lives to occupational electrocution injuries in 2019 alone. Electricians working with or near live wire without employing the proper procedures is a common cause of these fatalities and other injuries. Of these fatalities:
- 43 percent occurred in construction and extraction
- 22 percent in the installation, maintenance, and repair industries
- 17 percent in the building and grounds cleaning and maintenance sectors
- 7 percent in the construction and material moving industry
- 4 percent in the farming, fishing, and forestry sector
- 2 percent in the management sector
Also, in 2019, there were just under 1,900 electrical injuries—an increase of 22 percent or nearly four hundred injuries over the prior year.
Occupation of workers involved in non-fatal electrical injury include:
- Installation, maintenance, and repair: 35 percent
- Construction and extraction: 27 percent
- Production: 13 percent
- Service: 8 percent
- Sales and related: 6 percent
- Education, legal, community service, arts, and media: 5 percent
- Healthcare Practitioners and Technical: 3 percent
- Transportation and Material Moving: 3 percent
Suppose you or a loved one have suffered an injury at work due to an electrical malfunction in Florida. In that case, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation or other types of compensation. The best way to determine your legal rights, next steps, and what you could be entitled to receive is to speak with a knowledgeable West Palm Beach electrocution attorney as soon as possible after your injury.
What is Electric Shock and Electrocution?
Electric shock happens when someone comes in contact with a power source that contains enough current to pass through their body, attempting to ground itself. Depending on the strength of the current, the outcome can vary from not being harmed at all (perhaps only uncomfortably shocked) to being severely or fatally injured.
Factors such as the type of electrical current, the amount of current, and the pathway the current takes through the body will determine the severity of the resulting injuries. In general, low voltage electricity (less than 500 volts) won’t lead to significant harm in the average adult. On the other hand, exposure to a voltage greater than 500 volts will likely cause mild to serious injury.
Often, the terms electric shock and electrocution are used interchangeably. However, electrocution refers to a severe electrical shock that results in death.
Common Causes for Florida Occupational Electrical Injuries
Occupational electrocutions and other electrical injuries have many causes. These are the four most common in Florida:
Direct Contact with a Powerline
Workers exposed to an overhead powerline are at risk of electrocution if the powerline is faulty in any way. Those most at risk include phone line workers, tree trimmers, and sign technicians.
Indirect Contact with a Powerline
Workers operating cranes, lifts, or heavy trucks are also at risk of electrocution as their machinery could come in contact with a powerline. Following proper Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules and regulations is the best way to reduce this risk.
Direct Contact with Electrical Equipment
Many people tend to forget that hazardous electrical currents can be emitted from any piece of electrical equipment found on the job site. Proper safety and use procedures must be followed prior to servicing and assembly or disassembly of equipment to avoid potential hazards.
Improperly Installed or Damaged Electrical Equipment
Faulty or improperly installed electrical equipment poses a risk to workers. Damaged wiring, improper grounding, and the presence of moisture have all caused injuries. Faulty equipment can result in serious injuries such as amputations, traumatic brain injuries, eye injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
What Leads to Florida Construction Industry Electrical Accidents?
The two leading causes of electrical accidents in the Florida construction industry are:
Overhead Power Contacts
When a piece of heavy machinery contacts an overhead power supply source, electrocutions are likely. Common types of construction machinery involved in an overhead power contact accident are:
- Cranes (56.5 percent)
- Drilling rigs (7.7 percent)
- Bucket trucks (6.7 percent)
- Dump trucks (6.7 percent)
- Backhoes (4.9 percent)
Contact with Carried Items
Electrocutions can also occur when a worker is carrying an item, and that item makes contact with a power supply source. Things often involved carried item incidents include:
- Ladders (12.9 percent)
- Direct human contact (10.2 percent)
- Scaffolding (2.2 percent)
Preventing Florida Workplace Electrocutions
Steps to avoid workplace electrical hazards include careful and frequent maintenance, as well as adherence to necessary safety steps when using and working around dangerous equipment powered by high voltage. Proper grounding of equipment is the most basic preventative measure. As such, it’s critical that employers replace old, exposed, or frayed wire whenever necessary.
Keep in mind that employers must create and maintain safe work environments for their employees and others on the job site. Steps to avoid electrocution on worksites include:
- Wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Ensuring proper grounding and guarding
- De-energizing electrical equipment before performing any inspections or repairs
- Proper maintenance of electrical equipment that starts with ensuring the disconnection of mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, and other electrical power sources
- Using extreme caution when working near energized power lines
Sadly, the vast majority of these accidents can be easily prevented. Employers and contractors need to train their staff on electrical safety and take steps to avoid these two severe types of accidents. Employees and contractors should adhere to the rules and regulations to help keep everyone safe on the job site.
Hire a Skilled West Palm Beach Electrocution Lawyer to Protect Your Legal Rights
Suppose you or a loved one suffers an electrical injury at work. In that case, it’s crucial for you to understand your rights under both federal and Florida laws. Depending on the circumstances of your or your loved one’s injuries, you may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim or a civil injury claim. Find out more about your legal rights by calling the Iscoe Law Firm today to speak with a skilled West Palm Beach electrocution attorney. We can be reached 24/7, 365 days a year at 800 800-6500.