Power lines run throughout most urban and residential areas across New York. They are as common as fire hydrants or trash cans. Despite their familiar presence, however, they are among the most dangerous objects one can encounter at a construction site. There are a few simple things you should know before working around power lines, which can save your life.
First and foremost, understand that most overhead power lines have a more-than-lethal amount of power running through them at any given time. Most lines have up to 750,000 volts of electricity running through them. Even brief contact with such a line can draw enough power into a person to instantly vaporize skin, cook internal organs, and cause serious burns. There are no safe power lines, and all of them should be regarded as highly dangerous.
It is also important to understand that overhead power lines are not typically insulated. Any coating or covering on the outside of them is usually there for protection from weather. They cannot be safely touched, no matter how they may appear. The covering on an overhead power line is not meant to protect a person from electric shock, only protect the line from rain, snow, and ice.
Something that many people do not appreciate is that prolonged physical contact is not always necessary to draw a shock from a power line. Split-second brushing against a line is enough to draw a lethal charge. Metallic objects that conduct electricity can cause power to actually arc from a power line across several inches or even a foot. This is why it is important not only to not physically touch a power line, but also to give them sufficient space when holding anything metallic.
The vast majority of accidents involving power lines occur with overhead lines. Only a small margin of accidents happen with those that are buried underground, though caution should still be taken before digging in an area. The lines overhead are the ones that New York construction works should be especially careful of and avoid.
Perhaps the biggest danger in a construction site is large machinery coming into contact with an overhead power line. Most machines are metal and if one touches a line, it can become a conductor and draw electricity down into anyone else who is on or touching the machine. The electrical charge from a power line is so intense that you cannot let go or move away from an object that touches one, and even someone trying to pull a person away from a charged machine can receive electrical shocks and burns.
Serious injuries from power line accidents can result in long-term medical care, recovery, and fatalities. If you or a loved one have been injured in a New York power line accident, call us at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP today at (212) 986-7353. We can discuss your case and help you understand your rights.