Construction is one of America’s most dangerous lines of work. And construction workers can sustain serious injuries when they come in contact with electricity.

According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about five workers are electrocuted every week, with electrocution causing 12 percent of all young worker workplace deaths.

There are four main kinds of electricity-related injuries:

Direct Injuries

  • Electrocution or death due to electrical shock
  • Electrical shock
  • Burns (electrical burns, arc burns and thermal contact burns)

Indirect

  • Falls

Electrical burns occur when electricity flows through tissue or bones. The severity of the injury is determined by a variety of factors, including the type and voltage of the circuit, the path the electricity takes through the body, the duration of the flow and the resistance of the body.

Because the electricity flows through the body, it is important to know where it enters and exits the body, and the damage it causes to the tissues, organs, arteries, nerves and bones in between the two points.

Most entry points are in a hand. If the electricity exits though the person’s other hand, it’s likely that it passed through the heart. A common mistake construction workers and others make around electricity is to assume that low voltage means the danger is low. Levels of flow exceeding 75 milliampere can stop the heart and cause fibrillation (a rapid, ineffective heartbeat); fibrillation can quickly lead to death unless a defibrillator is used or effective CPR is administered. And seventy-five milliampere is not a lot of current: a small electrical drill uses 30 times as much.

According to OSHA, electrical accidents are caused by three main factors:

  • Unsafe equipment or unsafe installation of equipment.
  • Workplaces made unsafe by the environment (rain, wind, etc.).
  • Unsafe work practices.

OSHA encourages construction workers and everyone else using electrical tools or working around electricity to observe the following tool safety tips:

  • Use gloves and appropriate footwear.
  • Store tools in a dry place when not using.
  • Do not use in wet or damp conditions.
  • Keep working areas well lit.
  • Remove or work around tripping hazards.
  • Do not carry a tool by its cord.
  • Do not yank the power cord to disconnect a tool.
  • Keep cords away from heat, oil and sharp edges.
  • Disconnect tools when they are not in use or when changing tool accessories.
  • Do not use damaged tools.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a workplace accident, contact a construction injury lawyer who can use the law to protect you and your rights and interests.