Electrocutions rank third among OSHA’s “fatal four” leading causes of death in the construction industry. According to OSHA statistics, electrocutions were the cause of 8.6 percent of all worker deaths in the U.S. in one recent year.
As discussed in an article published by The Center for Construction Research and Training, an average of 143 deaths occur every year when construction workers come into contact with electricity. Construction occupations with the most electrocution fatalities include:
- Electrical workers (34 percent)
- Laborers (16 percent)
- Carpenters (6 percent)
- Supervisors, non-electrical (5 percent)
- Roofers (4 percent)
- Other workers (35 percent)
The Long Island construction accident lawyers at Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, represent workers and their families in cases of electrocution and other serious injuries from construction accidents. Construction workers injured on the job may have several legal remedies, depending on the circumstances.
We know your rights and fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Common Causes of Electrocution on Construction Sites
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It is the nature of electricity to travel in a closed circuit through a conductor. When a human body becomes part of the electrical circuit, current travels through the body. Electric shock occurs when a worker comes into contact with both wires of an energized circuit simultaneously, with the ground and one wire, or with the ground and a metal object in contact with one wire of an energized circuit.
As reported by OSHA, the most common ways construction workers sustain electrocution injuries are:
- Contact with power lines through equipment such as cranes, backhoes, metal ladders, raised dump truck beds, aluminum paint rollers and scaffolds.
- Lack of ground-fault protection to prevent injury from short-circuits, exposed wires and insulation breaks.
- Power supply to electrical equipment that is not grounded or the path to ground has been broken.
- Equipment is used as it was not designed to be used, rendering safety features ineffective.
- Use of improper or damaged extension cords and flexible electrical cords.
The Lasting Effects of Electrocution
Electrical current flowing through the body can have serious and lasting effects. The level of damage depends on several factors: the amount or amperage of the current; the path the current takes through the body; and the length of time the body remains a part of the electrical circuit. Other factors are moisture in the environment, the voltage of the current, the general health of the victim and the phase of the victim’s heart cycle when the shock occurs.
OSHA has estimated the possible effects of electrocution on the human body at various levels of current. The most serious injuries are likely to occur at higher levels of current, measured in milliamperes (mA), at:
- 17-99 mA: The victim suffers extreme pain, respiratory arrest and severe contractions of the muscles. The individual cannot let go, and death is possible.
- 100-2000 mA: Ventricular fibrillation occurs (heart pumping in an uneven, uncoordinated manner). Nerve damage and muscular contraction begin to occur, and death is likely.
- More than 2000 mA: Severe burns, internal organ damage and cardiac arrest occur. Death is probable.
Electrocution victims often suffer fractures of the spine and long bones and dislocation of joints as a result of falling or being thrown from the electric power source. Ruptured eardrums are another common peripheral injury.
Victims who survive electrocution are often left with severe disfiguring burns that may require repeated surgeries for skin grafting. Internal organs can also be burned and damaged. Electric shock can damage nervous control of the heart and lungs and lead to neuropathy, a painful condition involving the nerve endings in the hands and feet.
Electric shock survivors may experience “post-electric shock syndrome,” a condition involving progressive psychological and cognitive symptoms similar to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Many survivors experience chronic pain after electrocution injuries.
Compensation for Victims of Electrocution Construction Accidents
If you have suffered electrocution injuries on a construction job, you may have multiple sources of compensation, depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident:
- Workers’ compensation provides benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Depending on your injuries, you may be eligible for partial disability, disfigurement, or permanent and total disability benefits.
- New York Labor Law Section 240 holds employers and property owners strictly liable for falls from heights. This responsibility includes falls from scaffolding and ladders.
- Third-party lawsuits may be filed against parties other than your employer, such as manufacturers, subcontractors and property management companies that might be responsible for defective equipment or safety hazards that caused your injury.
How our Lawyers can Help Electrocution Victims
The personal injury attorneys at Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, are committed to helping construction accident victims on Long Island and throughout the New York metro area. We understand how workers’ compensation, premises liability claims and third-party lawsuits work in connection with construction accidents. We can thoroughly investigate your accident to determine all possible legal remedies and pursue your claim aggressively, seeking maximum compensation.
The importance of having an experienced and knowledgeable construction accident lawyer represent you after serious workplace electrocution injuries cannot be overstated. Call or use our online form to contact our office today for a free case evaluation. Speak face-to-face with an attorney and find out how our firm can help.
- OSHA: Commonly Used Statistics
- The Center for Construction Research and Training: Why Are So Many Construction Workers Being Electrocuted?
- OSHA: Electrical Incidents