Whether you work in an office setting or on a construction site, you likely work around electrical hazards each day you attend work. For some workers, the risk is clear and present, especially those who work with power lines and electric generators.
Many workers don't anticipate the dangers of being electrocuted, but it can happen anywhere an extension cord is used, or an electric outlet is present. When injuries caused by electrical defects occur, they can come with a great shock.
It's important to understand the risks and the safety measures you can take to prevent serious injuries.
Common electrical hazards
The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) identifies four common electrical hazards workers face. These include:
- Generators: When power is lost on a worksite, gas-powered generators provide a source of electricity. If not used correctly, backfeeding electrical energy can cause unintended energization of nearby power lines and put workers at risk of being electrocuted. Additionally, generators can emit carbon monoxide, which can cause serious illness and death. OSHA suggests not using generators indoors, keeping the circuit breaker off and locked prior to starting, and making sure generators are turned off and cooled down before refueling.
- Power lines: Contacting overhead and underground powerlines can often result in fatal injuries. Workers who survive electrocution are likely to fall or sustain burns. OSHA suggests looking out for both overhead and buried power lines before starting at a worksite. Workers should stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power and de-energized ground lines. In addition, workers should use non-conductive wood or fiberglass ladders to prevent being shocked.
- Extension cords: Extension cords are commonly used on worksites, but damage or long-term wear and tear can leave the inner wires exposed, putting workers at risk of electrocution. Damaged extension cords can be especially dangerous when they touch water. OSHA suggests using only 3-wire type extension cords.
- Electric equipment: Construction sites often require electrical equipment that can eventually damage insulation, cause short-circuits, and cause wire exposure. OSHA suggests ensuring that ground-fault protection is available on every construction site in order to prevent workers from contacting electrical currents. In addition, double-insulated tools and equipment should be used and inspected. Any equipment with worn-out cords, missing ground prongs, or other damage should be taken out of service.
What you can do if you are injured on the job
If you sustained an injury on the job due to electrocution, your medical expenses and lost wages may be covered by workers' compensation. Before filing your claim, it's critical that you first consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney.
Let the Law Offices of Richard A. Jaffe, LLC guide you through this complex process and ensure that you are treated fairly. We are dedicated to helping injured workers obtain the compensation they are rightly entitled to. Contact us today to learn more.