Electricity, simply put, is a concentrated flow of electrons from one point to another. Electrocution occurs when we interrupt a closed circuit of electricity by touching it with any uninsulated part of our bodies, most commonly our hands or feet. The high concentration of water in our organs and flesh makes an excellent conductor, so electricity will travel through our bodies as if it were a new part of the circuit.
A high concentration of electricity is not something that our bodies are naturally equipped to handle, and the flow of energy will cause serious and potentially life-threatening harm to the victim. The severity of damage from the shock corresponds directly to the voltage, amperage, pathway and duration of the jolt. If a high-voltage shock travels through a victim’s heart for an extended period of time, such as when a power line worker accidentally makes contact with a high voltage wire, survival is very unlikely.
Electrocution was the second deadliest force for workers in 2014, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In 2014, 899 construction workers died while on the job, which is over 20 percent of the total worker death count for that year. Of these 899 deaths, electrocution was the second-leading cause of death, responsible for 74 construction worker fatalities.
Only the force of gravity (through slips and falls from great heights) killed more construction workers than electricity in 2014.
Awareness and precaution around electricity is essential
OSHA has strict and voluminous regulations in place for working with electricity. It has specific codes for fixing circuit breakers, maintaining electrical lines, what safety equipment must be provided by employers to employees working with or around electricity while on the ground, underground, in the air or even underwater; essentially any scenario where a person has to interact with a potentially-deadly electrical situation.
However, sometimes human error or negligence can undermine all of that regulation. In some cases, an electrical worker may be unaware that a modification was made to an electrical circuit, or that a certain wire was incorrectly crossed during its installation years ago. Without warning, a wire he thought he successfully deactivated turns out to be live, and electrocution occurs.
When dealing with electricity, it is essential that an electrician or electrical maintenance worker has all of the facts about the current electrical system they are working on, including modifications, quirks of the system, and any incidents that have occurred in the past. This is the responsibility of the employer to ensure the worker has all the facts necessary to safely work with the electrical components.
Electrocution, and negligence, are preventable
Sometimes, electricians can make mistakes too; accidents happen. However, by following OSHA’s regulations and being diligent in their knowledge of their electrical system, all Massachusetts employers should be able to prevent most incidents of electrocution in the workplace.
If you or anybody you love has been harmed in an electrocution incident while at work that was preventable, or the fault of a negligent employer, you are entitled to financial compensation to pay for the medical bills, lost wages, medications and long-lasting psychological and physical pain that will result from that incident.
At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 40 years of experience going after negligent employers and successfully getting victims of workplace accidents the money they need, and deserve, to deal with their situation and continue living their lives.
We have a team of legal professionals standing by to handle your case, and there is no fee unless you are successful in your claim. Call us for a free consultation today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.