Statistics gathered by worker safety organizations and industry insiders prove that electrocution is one of the leading causes of death for construction workers in the United States. In fact, it is currently the fourth leading cause of death on construction sites. When asked, construction workers often say that working near live wires is one of their biggest on-the-job concerns.
Even so, many construction laborers may not even be aware that they are in danger. Some construction companies do not take the time and effort necessary to properly educate and train their workers who may encounter live electrical lines. It is the responsibility of the contractor on-site to ensure that the entire construction crew is aware of overhead and underground power lines and other electrical hazards.
Federal Safety Standards
Knowing that when employers follow basic safety precautions, fewer employees are injured, OSHA has set standards by which an employer must abide to protect the safety of construction workers around electricity, including:
- Checking overhead lines
- Making sure components are properly grounded
- Using ground-fault circuit interrupters
- Using flexible cords properly
- Ensuring proper implementation of lockout/tagout (LOTO) safety-related work practices
Unfortunately, however, too many contractors are cutting corners and too many construction workers are exposed to live electrical lines. For example, a New York City construction worker was killed recently when the cart he was operating hit a power line.
In order to better protect themselves, construction workers who may be working around electrical equipment should:
- Only work on electrical equipment after receiving proper training
- Work only with a permit
- De-energize, lockout or tagout electrical circuits near or on which they will be working
- Wear appropriate protective equipment including hard hats, gloves and rubber-soled shoes to lessen the chance of severe injury
Any employee who has been injured on a job site where proper electrical safety procedures were not followed should consider consulting an attorney to learn more about his or her legal rights and options.