Common Causes of Electrocution in the Workplace

Common Causes of Electrocution in the Workplace

The month of May is regarded as National Electrical Safety Month. During this annual initiative, which is spearheaded by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (EFSI), people are encouraged to spread awareness about electrical safety and help reduce electrical-related injuries and fatalities.

Although electrical incidents and electrocutions can happen anywhere, they are most commonly seen in the workplace, particularly on construction and utility sites. According to the ESFI, contact with or exposure to electricity is a leading cause of workplace fatalities. Furthermore, we must be aware of the common causes of electrocution in the workplace and how these tragic incidents can be avoided.

Contact with Overhead Power Lines

One of the most common causes of electrocution is contact with overhead power lines. These power lines carry high and dangerous amounts of electricity and do not provide any visible indication when they are electrically charged. Additionally, overhead power lines are not insulated which means they lack a protective outer covering and can easily conduct electricity.

Metal ladders, often used by utility and construction workers, can also conduct electricity. Furthermore, if you accidentally come into contact with the powerline, there is a high possibility that you may be electrocuted. To help avoid electrocution from a powerline, be sure to adopt the following safety precautions:

  • Assume that all power lines are live, charged, and dangerous
  • Keep your body and equipment at least 10 feet away from the powerline
  • Do not touch any object that may have come into contact with the powerline
  • Remain a minimum of 35 feet away from a powerline that has been knocked down
  • If you are near a powerline, be sure to carry your ladder horizontally
  • Do not spray water near a powerline

Defective Tools or Faulty Wires

Defective tools and faulty wires are another common reason why an individual may be electrocuted while on the job. For example, If a piece of equipment that you are using does not have a grounding conductor or it contains a frayed cord, this will greatly increase your chances of being electrocuted.

Additionally, if the equipment is not installed properly, this can also cause electrocution or even a fire. Therefore, it is important to check that all of your equipment, tools, and wires are up to par with safety standards to avoid being heedlessly electrocuted. 

Lack of or Damaged Personal Protective Equipment

Another common cause of electrocution in the workplace concerns the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). As required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all electrical workers must wear PPE to protect them from the electrical currents and charges that they are likely going to be exposed to. PPE for electrical workers generally includes:

  • Safety glasses
  • Insulated, rubber gloves
  • Insulated and flame-resistant clothing
  • Hard hats
  • Safety shoes
  • Face shield

If any of the aforementioned pieces of safety equipment you are using are damaged, they are likely to not provide you any protection or benefit. Even the smallest hole in the equipment can make a significant difference in its overall effectiveness. Not wearing any PPE at all is even more high-risk and prohibited by law.

What To Do if You Are Electrocuted in the Workplace

If you are electrocuted while on the job, you must seek medical attention immediately, as the effects of being electrocuted can be very serious and even fatal. Then, if applicable, you will want to alert your employer as soon as possible to let them know that you have been injured on the job site.

Finally, you should contact a Los Angeles electrocution injury lawyer to discuss what your legal options are. Depending on how and where the accident arose, you may be able to recover compensation for the injuries you sustained. An experienced lawyer can help guide you through the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.


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