Electrocution is one of the "fatal four" causes of death in the construction industry. In 2013, 20.2 percent of all workplace deaths in the U.S. occurred in construction. Occupational Safety and Health Administration data revealed four primary causes: electrocution, falls, being hit by objects, and being caught in or between objects or equipment. Electrocution caused 8.6 percent of all construction deaths, compared with falls (36.5 percent), being hit by objects (10.1 percent) and being caught between (2.5 percent).
An experienced workers' compensation lawyer knows most electrocutions are caused by failure to comply with work-safety regulations around wiring and live electricity, thus increasing risks of a construction or workplace accident in Philadelphia.
Safety News Alert reports a Philadelphia company was fined $470,300 for violating electrical safety standards and fall protection standards. This company is one of many putting workers lives at risk because of a basic failure to follow safety rules in one of the most dangerous areas in the construction industry.
Philadelphia Construction Company Violates OSHA Regulations
DMAC Construction LLC has been the subject of multiple complaints. OSHA received notice in November of 2014 about imminent danger at a Philadelphia construction site. Scaffolding was not only built without bracing needed to prevent collapse, but was also built too close to power lines.
Three weeks later, OSHA received notice workers on another DMAC site were laying bricks 35 feet off the ground with no fall protection gear in place. There were consequences to the company's failures. Two DMAC workers sustained shocks on the job; one in 2011 and the other in 2013
DMAC Construction LLC was cited for seven willful work-safety violations and one repeat violation. Fines of almost half-a-million dollars were deemed appropriate because "these hazards are not new to DMAC construction," according to the director of OSHA's local area office in Philadelphia.
DMAC and another company under the same owner's control have now been placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which OSHA has in place for companies with repeated safety issues. The program ensures a company is subject to repeat inspections. While OSHA is supposed to inspect every workplace, it doesn't have the manpower to do so. Companies with poor safety records are subject to more frequent inspection.
In too many cases, companies that violate electrical safety rules are not caught until tragic consequences occur. It is an employer's obligation to ensure a safe work environment but workers can also follow basic safety guidelines to try to protect themselves. OSHA has tips for avoiding injuries due to electrical hazards. Workers are urged to:
- Assume no wire is safe to touch and all overhead wires have lethal voltage.
- Call electric companies to repair fallen electrical lines and refrain from ever touching them.
- Stay 10 feet or more away from overhead wires during all construction activities.
- Avoid electrical equipment while near water.
These are a few of the ways workers can try to stay safe even if employers are irresponsible and create unsafe worksites. Employers need to be held accountable if injuries do happen, regardless of negligence.