Most people who work in construction or have a loved one in construction already know that falls represent the most significant risk to a construction worker. In addition to falling from heights, workers can end up hurt due to crushing accidents, falling objects, overexertion, toxic exposure and problems with machinery.
Another source of risk that people may overlook is electricity. Electricity powers the tools that construction workers use on the job site. It is also necessary to most completed projects, requiring that workers install electrical infrastructure into buildings. Construction workers represent about 16 percent of the annual work-related electrocution deaths in the United States.
While electrical installation is a modern necessity, it also creates significant risk for the workers on site. Understanding that electricity could lead to injuries at work is the first step toward reducing your personal risk of an electrical injury on the job.
Always stay aware of your environment
The human brain has the amazing ability to acclimate to just about any situation. Even the most dangerous construction site can become your daily work environment once you have worked in the space long enough. When you feel accustomed to a space, you are more likely to overlook warning signs and other indicators that something may be wrong.
To keep yourself and other people safe, try to look at your work site with fresh eyes every single time you move. You should always scan for machinery, wiring, warning signs and other workers. Even if you passed through the space a few minutes prior, things may have changed. Double checking only takes seconds, and it could save a life.
Failing to notice something in the environment can quickly lead to an electrical injury. Whether it is an exposed electrical source or accidentally pulling apart an extension cord, there are many ways that inattention to your environment can contribute to electrical injury on the job.
Wear adequate safety equipment
Work boots aren’t just to keep you from slipping or to prevent nails from penetrating your feet. They also typically have rubber soles, which provide grounding in the event that there is electrical exposure. While boots will not prevent you from any injury, they can minimize the amount of damage you experience if you come into contact with live wiring or electricity.
If you directly work with electrical implements or wiring, you may also have to have specialized headwear and gloves to keep yourself safe and minimize your risk of electrocution or electric burns. Your employer may not provide those items, but they are still a good investment.
Electrical injuries can cause many different symptoms, from visible burns to far more serious issues, such as arrhythmia of the heart. Anyone who gets hurt due to electrocution on a job site likely has the legal right to pursue a workers’ compensation claim for their medical costs and lost wages.