Electrical Accident & Explosion Lawyers
Construction workers are responsible for the labor that builds our commercial and residential structures. From exposed live wires on the ground, to flammable and combustible liquids near a heated source, construction workers face the risk of electrical injuries and explosions every day.
Construction sites and the companies managing them are heavily regulated but that is not always enough. When someone is electrocuted or an explosion occurs on a work site, it is often because someone, whether out of carelessness or intentionally, did not follow the required safety procedures. In these situations, the victim or their family may be entitled to compensation for their losses.
An electrocution injury, also known as an electrical injury, occurs when an electrical current travels through the body. The voltage can interfere with the way the internal organs function and the jolt can actually cause the tissue to burn. As electricity travels through the body, it generates a dangerous amount of heat, so while some electrical burns look minor, there still may be serious internal damage, especially to the heart, muscles, or brain (2).
Electrocution kills an average of 400 workers a year and causes non-fatal injuries to many more.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), electrocution is one of the leading causes of death in the construction industry. Construction-related electrocutions accounted for more than half of all occupational electrical deaths. In 2016, more than 20% of workplace deaths occurred on construction sites and nearly two-thirds of of those deaths were the result of the “Fatal Four” accidents:
- Falls (39%)
- Struck by object (9%)
- Electrocutions (8%)
- Entrapment (7%) – Caught, struck, or crushed by objects (such as equipment, structures, or materials)
OSHA’s “Fatal Four” are only the fatalities. Countless others suffer non-fatal, but serious, physical injuries and economic losses after an electrical shock.
How Electricity Affects the Body
Electrical current passing through the body generates heat, which burns and destroys tissue. Burns can affect internal tissues, as well as the skin. An electrical shock can short-circuit the body’s own electrical systems, causing nerves to either stop or to fire erratically, which can cause:
- Cataracts that develop immediately or years later
- Extreme swelling in limbs that may cut off blood supply
- Heart attack/cardiac arrest
- Muscles to contract violently
- Serious brain activity (including seizures and loss of consciousness)
Severity of Injury
The severity of injury someone experiences ranges from minor to fatal and is determined by the following factors:
- Duration of exposure to the current – In general, the longer the person is exposed to the current, the worse the injury.
- Intensity of the current – Anything over 500 volts is considered high voltage. High voltage can jump (arc) through the air anywhere from an inch up to several feet, depending on the voltage. Thus, a person may be injured simply by coming too close to a high-voltage line.
- Pathway the current travels through the body – The path that the electricity takes through the body tends to determine which tissues are affected.
- Resistance to the current – Resistance is the ability to impede the flow of electricity. The skin’s resistance decreases when broken (i.e. punctured or scraped) or when wet.
- Type of current – Direct current (DC) tends to cause a single muscle contraction often strong enough to force people away from the current’s source. Alternating current (AC) causes a continuing muscle contraction, often preventing people from releasing their grip on the current’s source. As a result, exposure may be prolonged.