Electrocution is one of the leading causes of fatal injuries in NY construction.
Construction workers account for a large portion of workers injured by electricity. Nationwide, over 60 percent of fatal occupational electrocutions happen in the construction industry. Most electric accidents on construction sites can be avoided with proper training and equipment. Yet in recent years, the U.S. hit a 10-year high for worker deaths by electrocution.
In New York City, where construction and renovation are constant, employers and government investigators must do a better job of protecting employees and ensuring a safe working environment around electricity. In the meantime, to help reduce the risk of electrocution, here's what employees need to know about electricity on construction sites and safety tips.
4 types of electrocution in the construction industry
In New York, construction workers have to contend with many electrical hazards. Construction sites often involve the use of heavy machinery and power tools. The constant development and renovation of buildings require workers to navigate complex electrical setups, including temporary power sources and exposed wiring, raising the risk of shocks and electrocution. There are four main types of electrical injuries sustained by workers at construction sites:
- Electric shock.
- Burns/arc blast.
- Fatal electrocution.
- Fatal falls as a result of contact with electricity.
At all work sites, constructing, repairing, and cleaning are the leading worker activities for electrical fatalities.
Accident risk factors
It's not surprising that people at most risk of an on-the-job electrocution are those who work with electricity or at heights - like power-line and telecom-line installers. On construction sites, next to electricians, jobs with the highest risk include laborers, foremen, roofers, HVAC, and carpenters.
According to research, accidental contact with an overhead power line is the most common cause of electrocution at construction sites. The next most common causes are working on energized parts (that are still energized) and ground faults. Factors associated with a higher risk of electrocution for a construction worker include:
- Metal ladders.
- Close proximity to overhead power lines.
- Regular machinery or equipment maintenance, repairs, or installation.
- Damaged receptacles and connectors.
- Poorly functioning tools and equipment.
Safety tips to prevent construction site electrocutions
Laws that seek to protect construction workers from accidental electrocution have been on the books for decades. Yet, serious electrical and fatal events continue. Employers are responsible for safety, but workers must be wary of the danger. To help safeguard workers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers these employer/employee tips to avoid electrocution hazards on construction sites:
- All the electrical equipment employees use should be properly grounded or double-insulated.
- Before using them on the job, inspect manual and power tools as well as extension and power cords for signs of wear and tear. If an item is damaged, remove it from service.
- Determine and enforce safe distances for workers and equipment while operating near power lines.
- Keep metal items away from electrical circuits and parts.
- Temporary electric power sources should involve planning that considers load estimates as well as utilization of ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
- To avoid contact electrocution, make sure employees know where overhead and underground power lines are located on the work site. Consider using overhead power line proximity warning technology.
- Employees should use PPE like insulated gloves, blankets, and eye protectors when appropriate.
- Use lockout/tagout practices to ensure machinery is powered down before servicing equipment. Likewise, disconnect or unplug tools, equipment, and machinery before inspection or repair.
- Train workers on electrical safety in a language each one understands, which may mean providing instruction in English and Spanish.
Construction electrocution accidents and liability
In New York, Labor Law 200 establishes the responsibility of general contractors and property owners to provide workers with a reasonably safe workplace, including equipment safety. When property owners and construction companies fail to meet safety standards, they need to be held accountable. However, proving that someone else's negligence or recklessness caused your injury can be difficult - especially in the often chaotic environment of a construction site. We can help with that. Our legal team has what it takes to build winning cases for construction workers.
The construction accident lawyers at Keogh Crispi, P.C. conduct thorough injury investigations and prepare every work injury case for trial. We put in the effort to prove liability and demonstrate the extent of what being electrocuted at work has done to a worker's life for the maximum compensation in entitlement benefits, settlements, verdicts, etc. If you were injured or a loved one was killed by electricity in a construction site accident, contact the NY lawyers at Keogh Crispi, P.C., for a free case evaluation. At no cost to you, we can answer your questions and explain your legal options. Contact us today.