Instructing construction workers about electrocution risks

Electrocution is a serious risk for workers in construction and it is important for them to be trained on these hazards.

As spring starts appearing in Columbus, many construction sites will start appearing. This can be a lucrative career for people but the job is not without its risks. While EHS Today reports that the number of fatal construction accidents has decreased in recent years, there are still too many people dying on the job. In 2012, 775 people lost their lives while working in the industry.

One of the dangers facing people is the risk of electrocution. Electrocution is responsible for 9 percent of all deaths that occur in construction and ranks No. 3 in the industry's "fatal four" injuries, just behind getting struck by objects at No. 2 and falls at No. 1. Therefore, it is vital that construction companies and contractors take the time to educate their employees on the situations that can lead to electrocution and how they can protect themselves.

Electrocution hazards

There are three major hazards that exist on construction sites, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These are categorized as the following:

  • Contact with energized sources: When people's bodies touch a live wire or make a connection with a live energy circuit, they can become part of that current. An example would be someone who failed to turn off a circuit breaker before working on an electrical system.
  • Using flexible cords or extension cords incorrectly: When electrical cords are worn, missing a ground pin on the plug or feature some other type of damage, they pose an electrocution risk to those working around them.
  • Touching a power line: People in construction sometimes don't realize that a covered power line is just as dangerous as an uncovered one. Additionally, they are often in man-baskets, ladders or cranes and if these pieces of equipment come into contact with a power line, they can suffer electrical injuries.

To alert workers to these hazards, employers should formulate a training program that teaches them to be on the lookout for any dangerous conditions. This could include standing water, old equipment that has a history of shorting out, exposed wires in cords or walls, and using metal ladders.

Injuries caused by exposure to electricity

The severity of the injury that can occur from exposure to electricity depends on the amount of time the worker is exposed to the electrical current, the type of electrical contact, the presence of water and where on the body the electricity entered through. Electrocution is the most serious of the electrical accidents that can occur because it usually results in the death of the worker.

Another common injury is a burn and these are classified as electrical, thermal contact or arc flash. The electrical burn can leave people permanently disabled or scarred. According to emedicinehealth, a thermal contact burn can destroy the top two skin layers and damage muscle, bone, blood vessels, nerve endings and sweat glands. The final type of injury, the arc flash, can leave people unable to enjoy their previous lifestyle and in need of long-term care.

Construction workers who are harmed on the worksite in Ohio do have rights. Therefore, they may find it beneficial to meet with an injury attorney.