Electrocution is the fourth leading cause of construction site injury and death among construction workers.  An average of 143 construction workers are killed each year by contact with electricity. Many victims of electrocution are electricians who do their work near “live” or near live wires.  But, construction laborers, carpenters, supervisors of non-electrical workers, and roofers also risk exposure to live wires and electric power lines.
Electrocution deaths in construction, by trade:

• Electrical workers  34%
• Construction laborers  16%
• Carpenters  6%
• Non-electrical supervisors  5%
• Roofers   4%
More than half of the electrocutions to electrical workers are caused by direct or indirect contact with live electrical equipment and wiring in light fixtures, circuit breakers, control panels, junction boxes, and transformers.
For non-electricians, the main cause of electrocution is contact with overhead power lines.  Many deaths are the result of failure to de-energize or protect the power lines and failure to maintain minimum clearance distances from power lines. Sometimes deaths occur when metal ladders, cranes, aerial lifts and vehicles or other equipment become “electrified” by overhead power lines.
Another common cause of electrocutions, especially among non-electricians, is contact with machinery, appliances, power tools, portable lights, and defective power/extension cords.
Leading causes of electrocutions:

 • Contact with electrical wiring and equipment  (58% electricians, 24% other construction workers)
• Contact with overhead power lines  (34% electricians, 56% other construction workers)
• Electrocution from machinery and appliances (4% electricians, 11% other construction workers)
Working in a cramped area or in standing water may also contribute to electrocution risk.
Can electrocution accidents be prevented?
Following these steps can prevent most Kansas City construction site electrocutions.
Safety tips for contractors:

1. Contractors should ensure that all employees who work with or near electrical currents are trained on electrical safety.
2. Contractors should comply with OSHA regulations on electrical safety.
3. Contractors should contact utility companies in advance to de-energize or insulate overhead power lines at a job site.
4. Contactors should allow work on live electrical circuits/parts in accordance with a permit system with specific procedures.
Safety tips for electrical workers:
1. Electrical workers should de-energize and lock out or tag out electrical circuits and parts that they are working on or near.
2. Electrical workers should work only on live electrical circuits/parts in accordance with a permit system with specific procedures.
3. Electrical workers should only do work they are trained and qualified to do.
4. Electrical workers should wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
Safety tips for all other construction workers:
1. The worker should be trained in electrical safety for the work he will be doing.
2. The workers should ensure that machinery and power tools are properly grounded or double insulated.
3. The worker should check all extension and power cords for wear and tear before use.
4. Power tools or machinery should be unplugged when not inuse, especially when being inspected or repaired.
5. Workers should stay a minimum of 10 feet from live overhead power lines.
6. Workers should keep metal objects away from live electrical circuits/parts.
These simple tips can help prevent deadly electrocutions!

Injured In A Kansas City Area Construction Accident?

Have you been injured in a Kansas City area construction accident? If so you need to speak with an experienced construction accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.

James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.