On September 20, 2017, a West Penn Power worker was seriously injured while working on power lines in Florida and helping with Hurricane Irma relief efforts, according to news reports by the Westmoreland Tribune. Electrical injuries are a major threat of severe storms.
Following Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy was forced to perform a serious review of the electrical grid and its readiness for the next big storm. Over 70,000 linemen and other electrical workers responded in 2012 following that catastrophic storm.
While storms can create a huge public safety threat, Forbes consistently ranks Lineman as one of the 10 Deadliest Jobs in America.
New York Law Protects Construction Workers Injured by Electrical Lines
New York law states that on construction sites, all electrical lines are considered live unless assurances are given otherwise by the owners of the lines or their representatives (See Labor Laws, Sect. 23).
Under New York law, specific precautions must be taken to ensure that electrical workers are given accurate information about the energization of electrical lines. The following precautions are set forth specifically in New York law.
- Voltage determination: Before any work begins, the employer must determine the voltage levels of “all energized power lines and power facilities around or near the site.” Sect. 23(b)(2)
- Investigation and warning: “The employer shall post and maintain proper warning signs where such a circuit exists. He shall advise his employees of the locations of such lines, the hazards involved and the protective measures to be taken.” Sect. 23(b)(3)
- Protection of employees: Employees must be provided with grounding equipment and other specified protective gear to avoid electrical shock. Sect. 23(b)(4)
- Guarding of switches or other circuit interrupting devices: In certain situations, employers must guard against open switches and open circuits. Sect. 23(b)(5)
- Notifying utility company: Employers must notify the utility company within no less than 5 days of any work being done that could “contact or disturb a live underground power line.” Sect. 23(b)(6)
- Generators: “Portable electric power generators” on construction sites must be grounded. Sect. 23(b)(7)
- Defective insulation: “Any wiring found to have cracked insulation or insulation deteriorated in any other way shall be immediately removed from service and discarded.” Sect. 23(b)(8)
- Temporary Lines: New York law also offers a set of additional specific rules for protecting workers who are assigned to work with and around temporary electrical wiring.
Injured by Live Wires on or Around a Construction Site? Our Long Island Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help!
Construction and labor laws are complex. For every statute and regulation, there are many exceptions, and every case is unique. Of course, construction workers and linemen are not the only people to suffer from electrical line injuries. The deaths of two young boys electrocuted by downed power lines in Texas earlier this year serve as a painful reminder of the dangers that live wires present. Live wires can cause painful burns and permanent scarring and disfigurement. Worse yet, live power lines and other high voltage electrical injuries can be deadly.
If you or someone you know suffer an electrical injury near a construction site, you should contact a New York construction accident lawyer. Whether you are an employee, subcontractor, or member of the general public, you have a right to be compensated for your injuries. Conveniently located in New Hyde Park, the attorneys of the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP have over 100 years of combined experience representing injured workers in New York. Call them today for your free consultation at (866) 895-0420.