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Understanding construction site electrocutions

Posted in Our Blog,Workers Compensation on August 23, 2018

Louisiana construction workers face grave electrocution dangers on an almost daily basis. Their risk of receiving life-threatening injuries or even suffering death by electrocution stems from the fact that their job sites contain many power tools, heavy machinery and large electrically powered construction vehicles. They likewise often must work on or near unfinished electrical systems.

Electrocution ranks second on OSHA’s “Fatal Four” list of causes of construction worker deaths as follows:

  1. Falls
  2. Electrocutions
  3. Struck-by-object events
  4. Caught-in-between-object events

As every worker knows, electricity flows through conductors, i.e., power lines, electrical cords, etc., creating a circuit path. When any part of a worker’s body contacts one of these electrical flows, it becomes a conductor itself. What workers may not realize, however, is that it takes only 50-100 milliamperes of electrical current to kill a person. Most 120-volt electrical circuits carry between 15 and 20 amperes, 300 times the lethal limit.

Electrocution causes

While not all electrocution accidents are fatal, all are potentially catastrophic. Unfortunately, construction workers can come into contact with live electrical wires from a number of causes, including the following:

  • Faulty equipment and tools
  • Frayed or otherwise faulty cords
  • Ungrounded wires
  • Ladders, lifts, cranes, etc. contacting overhead wires
  • Poor construction site lighting, particularly in hard-to-reach places
  • Adverse weather conditions such as rain or snow

Alarming statistics

Per, construction workers account for 61 percent of all work-related electrocution fatalities. Laborers represent 25 percent of these fatalities, with electrical workers representing 19 percent. Men between the ages of 35 and 44 face a particularly high risk, accounting for 28.3 percent of the overall electrocutions

Electrical parts, both faulty and nonfaulty, are the leading source of construction electrocutions, causing 52 percent of them. Power lines, transformers and converters are the culprits in 75 percent of these electrocutions.

Construction workers would do well to remember that just because electricity is an ordinary part of daily life does not mean that they can take it for granted or that they can use power equipment and extension cords carelessly. Electrical cords become damaged through normal wear and tear. Door and window edges, staples and other fasteners can hasten their deterioration. Fixing cords with electrical tape is a recipe for disaster. So is plugging a three-prong cord into a two-prong extension line or vice versa.