How Often Are Construction Workers Electrocuted? How often are construction workers electrocuted? The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that construction workers are one of the top professions to experience accidental death by electrocution. Their data comes from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which investigated the number of electrical fatalities among contract workers. Around 68 percent (about seven in 10) of contractors who were victims of fatal electrocutions worked in the construction and extraction industries. If you suffered electrical injuries on a construction site, be sure to speak to an experienced construction accident attorney about your case. Workers and their families might not realize they have different options for compensation and legal relief, and you always want the guidance of a legal professional who has experience handling construction accident cases.
What Exactly is an Electrocution?
Electrocution occurs when a person comes into contact with an electrical source or completes an electrical circuit. Many factors can determine the severity of an electrocution injury, including the voltage and current of the electrical source, the duration of the contact, and the path of the current through the body. This is also commonly referred to as an electric shock. Electrocution can happen within seconds, and the heart can stop immediately in some cases. Even if someone seems completely fine after being electrocuted at a construction site, they must seek medical care as quickly as possible to ensure they have no internal injuries or that the heart did not suffer any damage.
Statistics of Electrical Accidents Among Construction Workers
The rate of electrocution injuries in the construction industry is surprising. Hopefully, raising awareness of the dangers faced by people who work on construction sites will prevent electrocutions. The Center for Construction Research and Training found that during a 20-year study on fatalities from electrocution in construction, there were over 2,400 construction worker deaths due to electrical accidents. Construction workers account for almost half of all workplace electrocution deaths in the United States.
A study by The National Fire Protection Association found that 126 contract workers died in a recent year due to exposure to electricity. While there has been a decline in electrocution fatalities over the years, construction workers still experience a high risk of death when working around electricity.
Why Do Electrocutions Occur Among Construction Workers?
Many construction workers constantly work with live electrical equipment and live wires. Due to pressures to complete jobs on time, construction workers often work long hours at a fast pace. As a result, electrical safety issues can be overlooked, and the risk of electrocution increases.
When safety is compromised, it's not just construction workers who can get electrocuted. Building inspectors, electricians, plumbers, general contractors, and other workers can be electrocuted in construction accidents as well. The Washington Post reported proof of this in a story about a six-year-old girl who was electrocuted at MGM National Harbor by an energized handrail. This happened due to the construction workers finishing their work too quickly and not focusing on safety.
Unfortunately, time pressures are an ongoing issue when it comes to electrocutions in the construction industry. Construction workers are encouraged to skip necessary steps while installing electricity and working with electrical currents, which puts them and others at risk of an electrical accident or even death.
Common Electrical Accidents
No matter how much protective equipment, training, and education a company provides, electrical accidents are still bound to happen.
Not using the extension and flexible cords properly
The path to the ground is not present
Equipment not being used correctly
Lack of ground-fault protection and safety equipment
Working with power lines
Lack of electrical safety training
Many workers in the construction sector are not always aware of the electrical hazards in their daily work environment. Still, they must continue to work around these situations that make them vulnerable to electrical shocks and workplace electrocutions.
What Happens When an Electrical Accident Occurs?
Fatal electrical accidents on construction projects are unique and devastating. When a worker becomes hurt or dies on the job, OSHA will investigate and determine what happened. They may decide to give out fines to the company or whoever is to blame, and the results are typically available to the public.
Who Is at Risk for Electrical Injuries on Construction Sites?
The following are a few construction jobs where workers may experience an electrical accident:
Using a forklift
Dislodging metal roof anchor from a power line
Working on an aerial lift
Rewiring a light fixture or other electrical wiring
It only takes a few short seconds for an electrical accident to happen. For example, an aerial lift, forklift, or ladder can make contact with a power line and cause electrocution.
Types of Injuries from an Electrical Accident
There are different types of serious injuries from electrocution at a construction site. Electrocution accidents often result in death, but sometimes the victim survives. A shock can cause physical injuries ranging from minor burns to severe tissue damage, and even death. Not all electrical shocks are fatal, but they can still cause significant harm. The following are a few of the most common injuries from electric shock and electrocution:
Electricity can easily pass through the body. However, even if injuries look minor, there can be serious internal issues, especially to the brain, heart, or muscles. Electrocution also accounts for many construction fatalities.
How Much Electricity Can the Human Body Handle?
The amount of electrical current the body experiences will determine how severe the injuries are. The greater the electric current, the more serious the injury.
OSHA provided the following electric currents and their reactions to the body:
Below one milliampere: Generally, there will be no harm to the body
One milliampere: A person might feel a faint tingle, but there is generally no harm to the body
Five milliamperes: They might feel a slight shock and a slightly disturbing feeling
Six to 25 milliampere (women): A painful shock may happen along with muscular control loss
9 to 30 milliampere (men): The current makes it so a person's grip person cannot let go
50 to 150 milliampere: The body will feel extreme pain, muscular contractions all over the body, and respiratory arrest. Death is possible with this amount of current.
1,000 to 4,000 milliampere: The heart can stop pumping. Nerve damage and muscular contractions are very common. Death is possible at this stage.
10,000 milliamperes: Severe burns and cardiac arrest will likely happen. Death will also most likely occur.
On any construction site, there is a risk of fatal electric exposure. Interestingly, when a worker is sweating, their vulnerability to the current and electrical incidents is slightly lowered.
Who Can I Sue if I am Electrocuted on a Construction Site?
Personal Injury Lawsuits and Proving Negligence
Construction workers are generally unable to avoid working around electricity. It is simply a part of their job, and the dangers of this type of environment are well known. For that reason, OSHA implemented guidelines, regulations, and safety protocols to ensure that workers are not at great risk for injury. When companies do not follow safety protocols correctly, it opens the door to negligence, and an electric shock is likely to occur.
Victims of an electric shock may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit. This lawsuit holds the responsible parties accountable for their negligence and recklessness. The victim must prove negligence when filing this type of lawsuit, whether it is a contractor’s negligence, the property owner’s negligence, or the manufacturer’s negligence.
If an individual or company does not follow the protocols or warn construction workers of hazardous elements, they will most likely be responsible for the injury. When this happens, a construction accident lawyer will help the victim file a personal injury lawsuit. This will allow them to seek damages for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, future expenses, and more.
To prove negligence, a victim must show:
The responsible party owed the victim a duty of care
The responsible party breached this specific duty of care
The breach caused the accident
The victim experienced damages
Even though some of these factors may be easier to prove than others, victims must prove all four elements to show that the defendant was negligent, and therefore responsible for the accident.
The responsible parties could be the construction company, another contractor, property owner, or manufacturer. An experienced injury lawyer will investigate all the facts and details surrounding the case, build a strong argument against all the potential defendants, and prepare to fight for the victim's rights.
Filing a Worker’s Compensation Claim
When a construction worker is an employee at the time of electrocution, their primary form of relief is a worker’s compensation claim if their employer has purchased a workers' compensation policy. Workers’ compensation benefits will cover lost income and medical bills.
If the worker lost their life due to an electrical accident, their dependents may seek benefits through workers comp to cover funeral expenses.
Although families deserve compensation for their losses, they may still have to fight for it. This is an unfortunate reality, but they should seek help from an attorney who can help with workers’ comp cases.
Injured workers should always discuss their options with a construction accident lawyer. A third-party injury lawsuit might also be available, which increases their chances of full compensation.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If the employer did not provide workers compensation, when a person dies in an electrical accident, the surviving family and loved ones can sue for damages by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation given in a wrongful death lawsuit usually covers funeral costs and the loss of financial support.
The following individuals may file for a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas:
The victim’s spouse
The victim’s child
The victim’s domestic partner
The victim’s grandchild
Other minor children, such as stepchildren
Why You Need a Construction Accident Lawyer
After an electrical accident on a construction site, your employer may deny your claim for medical treatment. This may lead you to wonder about your legal rights and how you can get the medical care you need. This is a common situation among many construction and electrical workers involved in accidents.
You have the right to speak to a lawyer at any time regarding your construction injury and the benefits you deserve for your electrical accident. If your employer has denied your claim, you may appeal the denial and hire a lawyer to look at your case. Your construction accident lawyer will analyze the facts, look at all the evidence, and consult with other professionals like an accident reconstructionist to determine fair compensation.
These types of cases can be complex, so you should have a skilled and knowledgeable attorney by your side. They will handle and explain every step of your case, ensure you never miss a deadline, and fight for your rightful amount of compensation. Your only duty will be to focus on recovering from your injuries while your lawyers build a strong case against the responsible parties.
Above all else, a construction accident attorney will fight to protect your rights, including the right to compensation as an accident victim. The attorney will review the accident, speak to witnesses, acquire evidence, and build a case on your behalf. They can seek compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, rehabilitative costs, renovations to your home, and other damages.
Call a Construction Accident Attorney Today
At Wyatt Law Firm we represent workers in construction trades who suffer electrical injuries on the job. We can investigate where workplace electrocutions occurred and identify the liable parties. Call one of our construction accident attorneys today to learn about your legal options and the rights available to electrocution victims and their families. You should receive fair compensation, and an injury attorney will work diligently to protect your rights. You want a lawyer experienced in construction accident cases to make sure that you know your employer’s obligations and what legal routes you should pursue. Every accident is different, but the right legal professional will have the resources and experience to ensure responsible parties are accountable for their actions. Get in touch with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible so they can begin reviewing your case. Contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation with no obligation.