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Accidental Electrocution – A Silent Workplace Killer

Since it was first practically displayed in the early 1800s by Michael Faraday, generating power using electricity has become the most significant industrial achievement in the modern era. Channeling the mysterious phenomenon of electricity was first seen only as an excessive luxury, but it brought about the precursor to incandescent light bulbs in 1882, illuminating entire cities and ushering in a total change in livelihood.

Power plants and factories shot up all over the world, charging a new workforce with unprecedented tasks revolving around a frighteningly unknown and dangerously unstable energy source. Two manifestations of electrical “flow,” direct current and alternating current, emerged.

Direct current, championed by famous inventor and ruthless businessman Thomas Edison, proved to be most useful in supplying power locally and over short distances, such as any device that is battery-operated. Alternating current, championed by scientists like Nikola Tesla, is capable of transporting energy over much greater distances than direct current, and is primarily used in the modern power grid. Interestingly, if you are reading this on a laptop plugged into a charger, you are using both direct and alternating current.

Electrocution occurs when we interrupt a closed circuit by touching it with any uninsulated part of us, most commonly our hands or feet. Our water-filled bodies and flesh make excellent conductors, so electricity (which, put simply, is a flow of electrons) will travel through our bodies as if it were a new part of the circuit.

The severity of damage from the shock sustained by the victim 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, for example in a direct impact from a bolt of lightning, survival is very unlikely.

Electricity is 2nd most common form of construction worker death

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction workers accounted for 899 total worker deaths in 2014, which is over 20 percent of the total worker death count. Of these 899 deaths, electrocution was the second-leading cause death, responsible for 74 construction worker fatalities. Only gravity (falls) kills more workers than electricity.

OSHA has strict and voluminous regulations in place for working with electricity. It has specific codes for fixing circuit breakers, maintaining electrical lines and essentially any situation where a person has to interact with a potentially-deadly electrical situation.

However sometimes jobs don’t go by the books. In some cases, an electrical worker may be unaware that a modification was made to an electrical station, or that a certain wire was incorrectly crossed years ago. All of the sudden, a wire he thought he deactivated is actually still live, and a horrific shock occurs.

Negligence and electricity DO NOT mix

When dealing with electricity, it is crucial that an electrician or electrical maintenance worker has all of the facts about the current electrical system they are working on. This is the responsibility of the employer to ensure the worker has updated schematics or is directly told of any modifications that have been made to the system.

If you or somebody you love has been injured in an electrical accident where there is suspected negligence or a lack of precaution by the employer, you have legal recourse to receive financial compensation for the time and money spent in recovery or time missed at work.

Companies know that an OSHA investigation or a subsequent lawsuit derived from negligence will not end well for them, so don’t let them get away with an incident of laziness or ignorance that causes you or a loved one severe pain, suffering, or even worse.

The experience legal team at Altman & Altman LLP has over 40 years of experience pursuing, litigating and emerging victorious in negligence and personal injury cases. A consultation with one of our attorneys is totally free and we collect no payment unless your claim is successful. Call us today at 617.492.3000 or toll-free at 800.481.6199. We are available 24/7. Or contact us online.

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