Electrical injuries are estimated to cause approximately 500 to 1,000 deaths per year in the U.S. They are responsible for 3-5% of all burn unit admissions and represent the fourth leading cause of work-related traumatic death, accounting for 5-6% of all workers’ deaths.
Causes of Electrical Injuries in the Workplace
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace electrocutions (death resulting from contact with electricity) are most often due to:
- Contact with overhead power lines. The accidental touching of an object, such as an aerial bucket or ladder, with overhead lines causes 44 percent of all on-the-job electrocutions.
- Contact with wiring, transformers or other electrical components.
- Contact with electric current of a machine, tool, appliance or light fixture.
- Other causes of electrocution are contact with buried power lines and being struck by lightning.
Not all injuries arising from electrical contact are fatal, but they can be severe with long-lasting consequences for the worker and his or her family.
Who is at Risk of Electrical Injury?
While any worker who comes into contact with electricity, tools or machinery may be at risk of suffering an electrical burn, construction workers accounted for 52% of electrical fatalities from 2003 to 2010. Other industries in which fatal electrical accidents were noted during this time period included transportation, utilities, mining, and manufacturing.
The occupations of electrocuted workers vary widely, as do the situations in which they come into contact with the electricity. Here are just a few of the incidents reported by OSHA during Fiscal Year 2014 through September:
- Oklahoma City, OK, worker electrocuted while replacing natural gas line in crawl space
- Boyce, LA, worker electrocuted when cotton harvesting machine contacted overhead power line
- Arkansas City, KS, worker operating pump truck electrocuted when vehicle contacted power line
- Tarentum, PA, worker replacing barn roof electrocuted when ladder contacted overhead power line
- Naples, FL, two workers performing tree trimming operations electrocuted when ladder contacted power line
- Miami, FL, electrical contractor electrocuted by energized wire
- Jetersville, VA, construction worker electrocuted when crane contacted overhead power line
- Hammondsport, NY, highway department worker electrocuted when dump truck contacted overhead power lines
- North Richland Hills, TX, builder electrocuted while installing HVAC unit
- Village Mills, TX, three workers electrocuted when scaffold contacted power line
- Port Saint Joe, FL, fisherman electrocuted when net contacted power line
- Bickmore, WV, tree care worker electrocuted when power line contacted chain link fence
- Naperville, IL, contractor electrocuted while installing lighting
- Sugar Land, TX, worker installing a light post electrocuted after contacting live wire
- Lawrence, KS, worker repairing gutter electrocuted after contacting power line
- Springfield, VA, worker installing signs electrocuted by arc from live junction box
- Los Angeles, CA, worker electrocuted while installing security cameras
- Punta Gorda, FL, worker electrocuted while repairing machine
- Madill, OK, two steel workers killed in an electric arc furnace explosion
- Mount Pleasant, TX, worker electrocuted while installing computer component
The Physical Effects of Contact with Electricity
The most common result of contact with electricity is some type of electrical burn:
Low voltage burn, which injures only the skin
High voltage burn, in which current runs through the body and damages organs and tissues
Arc or flash burns, caused by electrical energy traveling from an area of high resistance to an area of low resistance, creating heat and a blast of pressure
Flame burns, occuring when the electrical arc or flash ignites clothing or other materials.
Serious electrical accidents can cause cardiac arrhythmia and respiratory arrest. They can cause injuries requiring repeated removal of the damaged tissue, including amputation. There can be lingering neurological complications such as seizures and peripheral nerve damage. Victims may be left with impaired balance and coordination and require extensive rehabilitation.
The Mental Damage Resulting from Electrical Burns
Workers who have been in electrical accidents often suffer psychological impairment and show the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. They may have difficulty with attention, concentration and memory and struggle to process information.
Get Legal Help from an Experienced Electrical Burn Lawyer
If you or a family member has been injured in a Maryland or D.C. workplace electrical accident, or if you suffered the loss of a loved one who was electrocuted, call Steve Heisler, The Injury Lawyer. Steve will not only handle your workers’ compensation claim arising from your injury, but can also make a negligence claim against any potential third party defendants (sub-contractors, premise owners, etc.). Let Steve shoulder the burden of planning for your family’s financial security following your electrical injury by calling (410) 625-4878 or filling out our website inquiry form.