Electrocution Safety In The Workplace
We have all heard warnings about electricity risks at some point in our lives. But, statistics show that electrocution safety should be a topic of discussion more often, especially at the workplace. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) reported that in 2016 there were more than 400 electrical injuries in the construction industry alone.
Various factors including defective tools, improper connections and misuse of tools greatly increase a worker’s chance of electrical injury. There are also situations where workers are unaware of the possible electrical hazards existing in the work environment. This often makes them vulnerable to an electric shock injury or electrocution.
What are electrical injuries?
Electrical injury occurs when an electrical current passes through the body and causes damage to the skin or internal organs. Electrical injuries consist of four main types of injuries, electrocution (which refers to electric shock stopping the heart), electric shock (injury to the body from direct contact with a high-voltage source), burns and fall injuries as a result of contact with electrical energy. These injuries can happen in several ways:
- Direct contact with exposed energized conductors or circuit parts. When an electrical current travels through the human body, it can interfere with the normal electrical signals between the brain and the muscles. For example, the heart may stop beating properly, breathing may stop, or muscles may spasm.
- Thermal burns can be a result of heat radiated from an electric arc flash. Ultraviolet and infrared light emitted from the arc flash can also cause severe damage to the eyes.
- An arc blast can include an explosive energy wave that is released during an arc flash explosion. This wave can cause severe burns, collapse your lungs, or create noise that can damage hearing.
- Muscle contractions, or a startle reaction, can cause a person to fall from a ladder and cause broken bones, traumatic brain injury and even death.
Electric injuries in the workplace
While electrical hazards are not the leading cause of on-the-job injuries, they do contribute to more than 400 electrocutions and 4,000 injuries in the workplace annually. Electric injuries in the workplace often mean that a worker will suffer physically and financially. In addition, the company’s productivity may be impacted.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies electricity as a long-time serious workplace hazard. Electrical faults are not only likely to cause injuries, but they also have the potential to cause fires or explosions making electrocution safety critical.
Recovery from electrical shocks is recognized as a slow and painful process. OSHA reports that every 30 minutes during the work day a worker is so severely injured by electricity that time off from work is necessary to recover.
Tips to work safely around electricity
It is imperative to understand that a person does not need to be directly working with electricity to be in contact with an electrical risk. Regardless if the workplace setting is at a large manufacturing plant or a construction site, certain guidelines should serve as a beneficial reminder of basic electrocution safety practices.
It is critical to ensure that all staff is trained on the correct ways to use electrical equipment and how to spot a fault. Many times workplace injuries occur when employees do not understand the severity of electrical hazards. Electrocution safety should be an integral part of the planning process for every job including taking a proactive approach to using appliances, equipment, extension cords and outlets to reduce the electric injury risk in the workplace.
Other helpful steps to minimize the risk of an electric shock injury at the workplace include:
- Identify any electric shock hazards that may be present.
- Inspect tools, power cords, and electrical fittings for damage or wear before each use. Immediately repair or replace any damaged equipment.
- Test every circuit and every conductor every time before use.
- Isolate equipment from energy sources.
- Always use ladders made of wood or other non-conductive materials when working with or near electricity or power lines. Workers risk electrocution when using metal ladders around energized, overhead power lines.
- Do not use outlets or cords that have exposed wiring.
- Don’t operate heavy equipment under power lines.
- Keep power cords clear of tools during use.
- Always wear protective clothing and equipment and use insulated tools in areas where possible electrical hazards exist.
- Look for overhead power lines when operating any equipment.
- Unless you know otherwise, assume that overhead power lines are energized.
- Use ground-fault circuit interrupters for protection.
- Be alert to electrical hazards when working with ladders or other platforms.
- Do not overload outlets.
- Never use electrical equipment when your hands or the equipment is wet.
- Unplug cords from the outlet by gripping the plug. Do not pull the cord from a distance.
- Have an emergency response plan in the event of an electrical emergency.
Do I need an Electrocution Lawyer?
Having knowledge about electrocution safety will minimize the risks of an electric injury but it does not mean electric injuries will never occur. Electricity is a powerful force which can seriously injure and in the worst cases lead to fatalities. The surviving victims of an electric injury may suffer permanent disability, heart damage, internal organ damage, loss of vision, hearing loss, brain damage, nerve damage and the list goes on. These injuries and the recovery process are very costly which will put financial stress on the victim and their families. This situation makes it critical to seek the guidance of a qualified Electrocution Lawyer. The injured victim may be entitled to compensation for their pain, suffering, lost wages, past and future medical expenses and more. An Electrocution Lawyer will navigate you through the legal process and help determine who is liable for the damages. Don’t try to seek justice without having an experienced Electrocution Lawyer in your corner protecting your rights.
How The Carlson Law Firm can help
Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we have been helping personal injury victims for over 40 years. If you have suffered an electrical injury in the workplace, don’t wait another moment to seek the guidance of an experienced Electrocution Lawyer. Our team is ready to heavily invest in your case and pursue maximum compensation while ensuring you are getting the medical treatment necessary. Contact us today for a free consultation. We care, we can help.
- Written by Adriana Torres