A majority of the contract workers who die in electrocution accidents are construction workers. This was the conclusion of the National Fire Protection Association after researchers studied U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on electrocution deaths from 2012 to 2016. Contract workers in Pennsylvania, whether self-employed or not, should know that they composed 13 percent of all electrocution deaths in that period.
Of those 13 percent, a startling 68 percent were in the construction and extraction field. Thirty percent of construction contract worker electrocution deaths took place on a construction site. Construction trade workers made up 57 percent of the fatalities, followed by electricians at 31 percent and construction laborers at 11 percent. Roofers and supervisors each made up 5 percent of the total.
Approximately 42 percent died through direct exposure, and 37 percent through indirect exposure, to electricity greater than 220 volts. The NFPA suggests that insufficient training for contract workers, combined with overwork and a fast pace of work, may be behind this trend.
To prevent electrocution, OSHA offers several safety tips. Workers should de-energize overhead and underground power lines before starting a project. They should maintain a distance of at least 10 feet from overhead lines and keep tools, vehicles and equipment at the same distance. Electrical equipment should be free of defects and be grounded.
Employees who are electrocuted, slip and fall, are exposed to toxic chemicals or suffer injuries in some other way while on the job may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits might cover medical expenses, any short- or long-term disability leave and a portion of the wages lost during the physical recovery. Victims may run into conflicts, though, so they might want a lawyer to assist with the filing and, if necessary, with the appeal. Victims may also consider a compromise and release agreement, commonly known as a settlement.