While construction workers in New York can be at risk of serious injuries from many kinds of accidents, those construction accidents that involve electric shocks and electrical currents can be particularly devastating. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies electrocutions as one of the leading causes of death on construction sites across the country, and construction workers often suffer avoidable injuries as a result of contact with electrical currents. What are some of the types of electrical injuries that occur on construction sites, and what do you need to know about electrical injuries more generally? And how can a New York construction worker seek compensation for electric shocks and electrical injuries on construction sites? Our New York construction accident lawyers can provide you with more information.
What Are Electrical Injuries?
Electrical injuries can vary widely in terms of type and severity. Generally speaking, according to Merck Manuals, “electrical injury is damage caused by generated electrical current passing through the body.” When an electrical injury happens on a construction site, the types of harm that a worker can experience will depend on a series of factors known as “Kouwenhoven’s factors.” Those factors are cited in Merck Manuals as follows:
- Type of electrical current (meaning direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC));
- Voltage and amperage of the electrical current (meaning the strength of the electrical current)
- Duration of the construction worker’s exposure to the electrical current (with a longer exposure usually meaning a more severe injury);
- Construction worker’s bodily resistance to the electrical current (which can result from a range of health-related factors, as well as where the electrical current makes contact with the body); and
- Pathway of the electrical current (which will affect which organs or tissue sustain injury).
What are some of the common signs, symptoms, or consequences of an electric shock or another type of electrical injury? According to Merck Manuals, the following symptoms are most common after a person has come into contact with a damaging electrical current:
- Skin burns;
- Internal organ damage;
- Soft tissue damage;
- Cardiac arrhythmia; and
- Respiratory arrest.
How Do Electrical Injuries Happen on Construction Sites?
Electrical injuries and electrocutions can occur in various ways on construction sites in New York. According to OSHA, the following are the primary ways that electrical injuries and electrocutions occur:
- Contact with power lines;
- Contact with electrical sources, such as power tools; and
- Improper use of extension cords on construction sites.
The following are some of the ways that OSHA says construction workers can avoid or reduce the risk of an electrical injury or electrocution on a construction site:
- Ensure that you have received proper training before using any electrical equipment or working around any electrical areas;
- Keep a safe distance from any overhead power lines;
- Determine whether underground power lines have been identified properly before performing any trenching or excavation work;
- Always use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs);
- Inspect all electrical tools and extension cords for any rips or tears, or other obvious issues, before you use them;
- Only use power tools as they were designed to be used and in the manner, you were trained to use them; and
- Follow all lockout and tag out procedures.
It is important to know that employers have a duty to ensure that workers are properly trained before using or working around electrical equipment, as well as a duty to inspect worksites and to ensure that all power tools and equipment are safe for use based on regular maintenance requirements.
How Can a New York Construction Worker Seek Compensation for an Electrical Injury?
If a construction worker sustains an electrical injury or is electrocuted on a construction site, two general methods exist for seeking compensation in New York:
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim in New York; and/or
- Filing a negligence claim against your employer (if the employer’s negligence caused the injury) under New York Labor Law.
Contact a New York Construction Accident Attorney Today for Assistance
Anyone who has been injured in a construction accident in New York or has lost a loved one in a New York construction accident may be able to file a claim for compensation. New York law has more than one option for injured construction workers to seek compensation, and in many circumstances, it is possible to file a negligence lawsuit against an employer. If you have questions about your eligibility to file a construction accident lawsuit against your employer, or if you want to learn more about workers’ compensation and electrical injuries on construction sites, one of our experienced New York construction accident attorneys can speak with you today. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP for more information.