Electrocution is one of the main causes of construction worker death. Even if a worker survives an electric shock, he or she can suffer wide-ranging injuries. Electrocutions can occur when employers fail to maintain a safe site, or when workers do not receive adequate training in how to handle live wires. Obtaining legal advice after a construction worker electric shock or electrocution can help you, as a victim or victim’s family, receive compensation for your damages in New York City.
In 2017, 87 workers died in New York City. Falls were the most common cause of worker death in NYC, while transportation accidents were the most common event. Exposure to harmful environments, such as those with electrical risks, took 16 lives in New York City in 2017. The same year, electrocutions made up 7.3% of all construction worker fatalities across the U.S. Seventy-one workers in the U.S. lost their lives from electrocution injuries in 2017.
Building construction accounted for 55% of deaths in the private construction sector in NYC in 2017. Lack of control of hazardous energy is one of the main causes of worker electrocution. It is the employer’s legal duty to determine the potential dangers of a source of energy, including electrical boxes, transformers, and other live components. Failure to adequately prepare workers to encounter these hazards is negligence.
The four main types of electrical injuries are flash, flame, lightning, and true. Flash injuries stem from an electrical arc flash. They typically only cause superficial burn injuries on the skin. Flame injuries can ignite the victim’s clothing and cause thermal burns. Lightning injuries involve high-voltage energy that can pass through the entire body. There might not be an exit site for lighting injuries. True electrical injuries mean the victim becomes part of the electrical circuit. Usually, entrance and exit sites are visible in these injuries.
The type and degree of an electrical injury will depend on the type of electrical current, strength of the voltage, part of the body affected, body resistance, and length of time exposed. The higher the voltage of the current, the greater the injury. Since construction sites often deal with voltages that are much higher than what one might find in a typical household, construction workers are at greater risk of deadly electrocution injuries.
Negligence is the most common reason electrocutions occur at construction sites and often leads to conditions that are unreasonably dangerous for workers. Miscommunication between the site manager and the project supervisor, for example, could lead to workers mistakenly thinking that someone has cut the power to a live wire. Touching the wire would then cause electrocution or electric shock injuries to the unsuspecting worker.
Identifying the cause of an electrical injury is one of the first steps in a personal injury claim. Filing a lawsuit for construction worker electrocution takes determining the appropriate defendants. The defendants will be the entities responsible for ensuring that the construction site is free from electrical hazards where workers are performing their job duties. Recognizing who or what caused the accident can lead to identifying the defendant(s) for a lawsuit.
Almost all electrical injuries are preventable. They are accidents that generally will not occur in a safe workplace. Electrical injuries are the responsibility of the owner, general contractor and sub-contractors to prevent. Construction site managers must ensure the reasonable safety of a workspace before allowing workers to enter. This may include checking the premises for electrical hazards, preparing electrical components for work, and providing insulating protective gear to help protect against electric shock. OSHA has guidelines in place to help employers control electrical hazards.
If you or a loved one have suffered an electrical injury or death on a construction site, there may basis to file a personal injury lawsuit. The New York City personal injury lawyers at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo PC can help with these claims.