Electricity is all around us and is essential to modern day life at home and work. Many professionals work to keep the lights on for all of us, including electricians, power line workers, electronic technicians, and engineers. These workers know that working with electricity can be very dangerous and that many electrical hazards exist in their work environment.
OSHA has recognized electricity as a serious workplace hazard for decades. On average, electrocution accidents account for approximately 5%-8% of construction industry fatalities. All companies are required to take specific precautions to protect workers from electrocution accidents.
What Causes Electrocution?
Electrocution is the injury or killing of a person by electric shock. Electricity flows through closed circuits, usually through a conductor. Part of the danger of working with electricity is that the human body is an efficient conductor of electricity. If the body becomes part of an electrical circuit, it can experience an electric shock, which leads to electrocution. When the human body experiences electric shock, electricity flows between the part of the body completing the circuit, through the body, and to the ground. Electrocution can cause injuries ranging from a slight tingling sensation to instant cardiac arrest.
Protection from Electrical Hazards
The majority of electrical accidents result from unsafe equipment, an unsafe work environment, and unsafe work practices. There are many ways to protect yourself from electrical hazards, including those listed below.
Insulation can provide protection from electrical hazards by coating metals and other conductors to help stop or reduce the flow of electricity. Some common insulators include plastic, rubber, mica, and glass. The insulation must be appropriate for the type of metal and circuit you are working with to protect you from electric shock. Before connecting any electrical equipment to a power source, always check the insulation for defects.
Guarding electrical equipment ensures that people do not accidentally come into contact with a live electric current. This means enclosing the equipment safely away from all workers and keeping it accessible to only authorized users who are qualified to use it. Warning signs are a requirement and are an essential way to indicate inherent danger in the equipment being used. For example, a sign saying “Danger/High Voltage/Keep Out” will warn workers of electrical hazards in a certain area.
When you “ground” a tool or electrical system, you are intentionally creating a path of low-resistance that connects directly to the earth. This can prevent voltage buildup from occurring, which can prevent electrical accidents. Grounding is not a primary protective measure, and is normally a secondary practice to help prevent electric shock. It reduces the risk of electrocution but must be used in conjunction with other methods of protection.
We all have surge protectors and breaker boxes at home and it is essential to have circuit protection at work. Circuit protection devices stop or limit the flow of electricity automatically if there is an overload or short circuit in the system. Some common circuit protection devices include circuit breakers, fuses, ground-fault circuit interrupters, and arc-fault circuit interrupters.
Safe Work Practices
Workers should be trained in safe work practices for working with live electric current. Deenergizing electric equipment before inspecting it and repairing it, keeping electric tools maintained, exercising extreme caution when working near live, energized lines, and using appropriate protective equipment are just some of the ways to stay safe when working with or near electricity.
All companies are required by OSHA to have a health and safety program that provides appropriate measures to keep electrical hazards under control. If you feel uncomfortable working in your current work environment and have noticed electrical hazards that are not under control, do not hesitate to reach out to your safety officer or coordinator.
All workers have the right to work in a safe environment, even if there are inherent hazards present. Even with all appropriate safety measures in place, electrical accidents that cause electrocution can still happen.
Houston Electrical Accident Attorneys
Electrical accidents at work are scary, dangerous, and can lead to severe injury or even death. Injured employees are often left wondering if they will be able to return to work, how they will pay their bills, and more stressful scenarios that take their focus away from healing. No injured worker should have to face a company lawyer or an insurance adjuster alone. If you or a loved one was injured on the job, you may be entitled to financial compensation. There is limited time to act following a Texas electrocution accident, so contact us today for a free and confidential case consultation.