Electrical shock injuries commonly happen in workplaces and construction sites. Contact with electricity can cause catastrophic burn injuries, internal organ damage, cardiac arrest, and permanent injuries to muscles and nerves. Many people are unaware that serious injury or death can result from contact with a small amount of electric current.
Workers who have been injured on the job as the result of an electrical shock can seek compensation for their injuries and damages. It is crucial in such cases that injured workers and their families understand their legal rights and options.
The experienced New York construction accident attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP can be there for you. For decades, we've stood with victims of electrical injuries and help recover maximum compensation for their losses.
Contact us at (212) 986-7353.
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), about 50 electrical workers are killed every year by electric current. Many more are injured. More than half of these deaths are workers who operated energized or live electric circuits without proper protective equipment. At least one-third of the electrocutions happen at low voltage (under 600 volts). Some of the common electrical shock injuries include burns, internal organ damage, seizures, loss of hearing, and unconsciousness. Electrical injuries could lead to death as well.
Construction workers can suffer an electrical shock injury when they come in contact with live wires or a source of electricity. It is all too common for construction workers in New York to suffer severe injuries because of inadequate ground-fault protection or a lack of insulation around live wires. Defective equipment, a lack of protective gear, and negligent employers put workers in danger.
It is also common for workers to suffer serious or fatal injuries if they come into contact with power lines. Workers asked to use cranes, ladders, scaffolds, backhoes, scissor lifts, or long handled tools are particularly in danger of coming into contact with power lines.
The severity of the shock depends on the path the current takes through the body, the strength of the current, and the duration of the incident. It is important to remember that low voltage does not necessary mean low hazard. In fact, even low-voltage currents can temporarily freeze muscles. High-voltage currents can result in a potentially fatal rapid or ineffective heartbeat.
While electrocution is a danger for all construction workers, those on and operating cranes are in particular danger. The risk of a crane coming into contact with an overhead power line is high, and should this occur, it can be fatal for anyone touching the crane. Power lines are not insulated against physical contact, only protected against weather, so if a crane touches a power line, it conducts a high-voltage shock that can run through an operator, anyone else in contact with the crane, or even arc to a bystander not in physical contact with the crane.
When you look at the numbers of people killed in accidents involving cranes and electrocution, they are horrifying:
- One study found that cranes were involved in 38% of fatal electrical injuries in the construction industry that involved heavy equipment.
- Another study looked at fatalities among construction workers between 1992 and 2006. In that 14-year period, there were 323 construction worker deaths involving crane incidents, averaging 22 construction worker deaths per year involving a crane accident. Of those 323 crane-related deaths, 102 of them, 32%, were due to electrocutions from contact with overhead power lines.
- Between 1984 and 1994, OSHA investigated 502 deaths involving cranes in the construction industry. Of them, 198 deaths, 39%, were caused by electrocution, primarily due to contact with overhead power lines.
All of this conveys one important fact: cranes are involved in a high number of electrocution accidents in the construction industry. It takes only an instant of contact for a fatality to occur.
The biggest safety help most experts agree on is training and supervision. Crane operators in New York must be certified to use a crane, and this training includes the dangers of electrocution from overhead power lines. Regular additional training is also a good idea to ensure crane operators and those around them understand how to recognize electrocution dangers and how to stay safe while using a crane.
Cranes should also be inspected regularly, and experts suggest that these inspections be carried out by certified crane operators. This increases the chance of finding faulty wiring or other defects that might increase the risk of electrocution and other crane-related accidents.
Finally, the foreman or site supervisor should have training to understand the dangers involved in crane operation. A supervisor without crane-use certification might make a decision and order the use of a crane in a location that presents a danger to people. Supervision provides another layer of protection to keep the crane operator and others safely away from electrocution. Without this, the company running a construction site may be liable for injuries or deaths caused by an electrical mishap.
Electrical injuries can result in long-term effects and significant medical expenses for injured workers. In such cases, victims can seek NY workers' compensation benefits, which cover medical expenses and a portion of the lost wages. Workers can also file third-party claims against parties other than employers seeking additional compensation for non-economic and other damages. Examples of third parties include general contractors, sub-contractors, property owners, and manufacturers of defective products.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an electrical accident, call the NYC electrocution accident attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP at (212) 986- 7353 to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.
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NY Electrical Injury Verdicts & Settlements
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$565,000 - Workplace Accident: Electrical Shock