With the increasing use of electricity in modern society, more workers are being exposed to electrical hazards than ever before, prompting many states to enact new laws over the last few years requiring employees to be educated about the dangers of electrocution at work.
Fortunately, it looks as though these new laws and safety training are starting to make an impact. According to a report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were a total of 126 electrical fatalities at work in 2020. This was a 24 percent decrease from 2019 and the lowest number of electrical fatalities recorded since 2003.
What occupations have the highest electrical injury rates?
Electricians are not the only workers at high risk of electrocution at work. Below are some of the highest-risk occupations for electrical hazards.
- Construction and extraction occupations. Construction and extraction workers had the highest incidence of fatal electric-related injuries in 2020, accounting for almost half of electrocution fatalities at work (44 percent) that year.
- Installation, maintenance and repair occupations. Electrical injuries at work are more common among maintenance, installation and repair workers than in other occupations. About 20 percent of work fatalities from electrocution in 2020 occurred in these 3 occupations.
- Transportation, storage and distribution occupations. Workers in the transportation industry, especially those who work in the railway and aircraft industries, are exposed to electrical hazards, including electrical fires. Regular maintenance checks are essential to ensure worker safety in these industries.
- Production occupations. Production workers are more likely than many other occupational groups to be exposed to electrical hazards because production facilities use highly mechanized and automated equipment, including power tools, conveyors, scanners and controllers that are often powered by electricity.
Common accidents involving electrocution at work
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are 4 types of injuries that result from accidents with electricity:
- Electric shock occurs when an electric current passes through a worker’s body and may result in burns, an abnormal heartbeat and even temporary unconsciousness.
- Electrical burns are the most common non-fatal electrical injury. They can occur when a worker’s skin comes in contact with live electrical wires or equipment.
- Falls due to contact with electricity can occur when electric currents cause muscle contractions that lead a worker to lose their balance.
- Fatal electrocution occurs when the electricity passing through a worker’s body causes their death.
Causes of electrical hazards at work
Common causes of electric hazards on the job site include:
- Overloaded or damaged circuits
- Unsafe grounding of electrical equipment
- Improperly installed or maintained electrical equipment
- Defective or damaged equipment or machinery
- Downed or damaged power lines
- Accidental energizing of equipment
- Contact with overhead electrical wires and fallen power lines
- Working in damp locations while operating electrical equipment
How to prevent electrical hazards in the workplace
Electrical safety in the workplace is essential. No one should have to risk electrocution to earn a living. Many electrical injuries are preventable by following these general rules:
- Regularly inspect all-electric equipment.
- Avoid overloading outlets.
- Replace worn or damaged components with the manufacturer’s recommended replacement part.
- Beware of conductive tools and cleaning materials.
- When working overhead, look above for electrical lines.
- Ground all cords, plugs, and outlets.
- Avoid binding and knotting cables
- Install proper physical barriers around electrical hazards.
- Only licensed electricians should work with live electrical wires.
What will workers’ comp cover after an electrical injury?
Alabama law specifies that all employers with at least 5 employees are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits to employees who are injured on the job. Alabama workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Medical expenses. Payment of all approved or court-ordered medical expenses for medical care relating to the injuries from the workplace accident. Medical-related costs are covered under workers’ comp, including hospital stays, emergency room and doctor’s visits, medications, rehabilitation, surgeries, medical supplies and artificial members.
- Wage replacement. Payment for wages if you are unable to work or can only work in a limited capacity after your work accident. Workers’ comp will pay 66 percent (two-thirds) of your average weekly wage. Once you reach maximum medical improvement and receive a permanent impairment rating, additional compensation may be available. Every case is different.
Please know that under the Alabama workers’ compensation laws, an injured employee may not recover damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, punitive damages or lost wages.
- Death benefits. If an employee dies because of their work injury, their dependents are entitled to certain benefits, including compensation to cover funeral costs.
What should I do if I’m electrocuted on the job?
If you’re electrocuted at work, follow these guidelines to ensure you remain eligible for workers’ compensation benefits:
- Get immediate medical attention. It’s vital that you see a physician after any work injury to establish that the injury was work-related. Failure to seek medical care could compromise your ability to receive compensation. Additionally, be sure to follow any orders given to you by the physician.
- Inform your supervisor about the accident, preferably in writing. Notice should be given within 5 days in most cases.
- File all necessary paperwork. Alabama has a 2-year statute of limitations in which you must file a claim or you won’t be eligible for benefits.
- Seek legal counsel from a workers’ compensation attorney if your claim is denied. Legitimate claims are denied every day. If you believe you should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and your employer or their insurer denies your claim, talk to an experienced workers’ comp attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
When to contact an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney
Workers’ compensation claims can be complicated, and it’s essential that you follow all the necessary procedures to ensure you remain eligible for benefits and receive maximum compensation. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can review your case, explain your options and handle all the paperwork and negotiations so you can focus on your recovery.
If you live or work in Birmingham and have been injured on the job, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Nomberg Law Firm. We know how hard it can be to pay your bills and get back on your feet while trying to recover from a workplace injury. Our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with employers and insurance companies to get you the money you deserve. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation of your case.
Related Reading: Eye Injuries in the Workplace
About Nomberg Law Firm
Nomberg Law Firm has been helping people in Alabama recover fair compensation for their injuries since 1967. We know our clients are hard-working men and women who deserve the best representation possible.
We understand how hard it can be to pay your bills and get back on your feet while trying to recover from a serious injury. That’s why we dedicate our entire practice to fighting for your rights and obtaining maximum financial compensation.
The sheer number of clients at larger law firms means you’re one of many. As a small, family-owned injury law firm, we can focus on your needs, provide individualized assistance, and offer you one-on-one attention that larger firms simply cannot match.
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