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Protect Yourself: The Top 5 Most Common Causes of Electrocution In The Workplace

Causes of Electrocution

If you find yourself jolted awake in the middle of the night, worried about the risks of electrocution at your workplace, you’re not alone. While electrical incidents are not as common as some may think, there remains the potential for injury and death due to improper use of electricity. 

To help ensure that you and your loved ones remain safe on and off the job, it’s essential to understand and guard against the top six most common causes of electrocution in the workplace. 

In this article, we’ll cover what those causes are, how to reduce the risks of each, and what to do in the event of an electrical incident. So plug in, buckle up, and let’s get started on the road to safer workplace practices.

Contact with Voltage Source

Contact with voltage sources can be a dangerous cause of electrocution in the workplace. Working within a few feet of live circuits, especially without the right safety gear, greatly increases the chance of getting an electric shock or being killed by electricity. Electrical currents are unpredictable, and even when working with low-voltage systems, it’s important to remember that electrocution can occur.

One way to lower this risk is to use lockout/tag out devices, which stop equipment from turning on by accident when maintenance is being done. When working with electrical parts or systems, it is also important to always set up good ground. In addition, ensuring that all safety measures are closely followed is essential. Employees must also ensure that any electrical devices or cords they use are in good condition and not frayed or compromised.

It is also possible for electrocution to occur via indirect contact with an energized source if the person has wet hands or is standing on a damp surface. So, avoiding being in these kinds of situations can lower the risk of getting electrocuted. Keeping a close eye on the environment and using basic safety precautions, such as avoiding contact with metal parts while handling components, can make all the difference in preventing accidents.

These steps should be taken seriously to ensure worker safety, as electric shocks can have serious implications ranging from loss of consciousness to death. With the right plans and procedures in place, as well as constant vigilance and training, employees can keep themselves from coming into contact with voltage sources and other electrical hazards in the workplace. 

Now, let’s talk about how a broken piece of equipment could cause an electrocution risk at work.

Equipment Failure

Equipment failure is another of the top six most common causes of electrocution in the workplace. Poorly designed, poorly maintained, or misused equipment can put workers at risk of shock, burns, and falls. If a piece of equipment has low-quality components, there will be a greater likelihood that electricity will escape and cause electrocution. Equipment can also be misused if employees are not given proper safety directions or choose to operate it without protective gear.

It is critical that employers provide employees with proper safety instructions for any machinery or tools that depend on an electrical source. Also, employers need to check, maintain, and fix their electrical equipment. Employers must ensure workers are adequately trained and do what they need to regularly check, maintain, and fix their equipment. They must also follow safety rules in the workplace. 

Equipment failures often center around who is responsible for the safety of workers—the employer and/or the employee. On one side of this argument, some people say that it is the employer’s job to make sure that all checks and maintenance are done so that their equipment works safely and without problems. On the other hand, some feel that the employees should be responsible for educating themselves and following safety regulations while using such equipment.

Ultimately, both parties have a role to play in avoiding these accidents. Employers must ensure workers are properly trained and do what they need to regularly check, maintain, and fix their equipment. They must also follow safety rules in the workplace. Employees must take the right steps to learn and use the right way to operate machinery and be careful when contacting electrical sources.

Given this reality, preventing electrocution due to equipment failure takes a team effort. By working together and taking the steps needed to make a safer work environment for everyone, injuries from electrocutions caused by broken equipment can be prevented in the future. When it comes to protecting yourself from electric shock caused by unactuated powerlines, vigilance and staying aware of one’s surroundings are vital to reducing risk.

  • According to OSHA, in 2019, there were 167 reported fatal work injuries due to electrocution in the workplace.
  • From 2016-2018, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 18.2% of fatal electrical injuries occurred during contact with overhead power lines.
  • In 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that welding and cutting operations accounted for 27% of all electric shock deaths among workers.

Unactuated Powerlines

Moving onto powerlines, a common cause of electrocution in the workplace, unactuated powerlines are a potential issue. Unactuated powerlines happen when an employee touches a source of electricity that should have been turned off before they got to the area. Unfortunately, this type of mistake can easily cause electrocution if the site has not been examined for exposed electrical sources.

It is essential that any workplace follow state and federal safety guidelines to avoid this hazard. At a minimum, employers should make sure that each area of the workplace with electrical components is adequately checked before allowing employees to enter it. Employers should also be careful to give their workers the right training and tools to learn how to spot and deal with safety risks so that their employees don’t get electrical shocks or burns.

Although these steps may seem “over the top” compared to what other employers do, they are essential measures for keeping workers safe from electrocution. It’s a fact that some jobs require working with electricity; however, it is still possible to minimize the risk of electrocution by taking proper precautions and diligently enforcing safety regulations. Even though this may seem like an extra cost or expense, it is worth it, in the end, to make sure everyone in the workplace is safe. Prevention is key when dealing with any form of hazard!

In conclusion, powerlines that aren’t turned on should be taken seriously because they can cause electrocution at work. To avoid this risk, employers must make sure that all areas with electrical parts are checked well before employees go in and that safety rules are followed very closely. From there, we will move on to discussing how current flow through the body affects those who come into contact with electricity.

Current Flow Through the Body

Current flow through the body is of great concern when it comes to electrocution in the workplace. When a person comes into contact with an electrically charged source, such as an uninsulated or otherwise unactuated powerline, as discussed in the previous section, electricity will flow if it has a path. This path could be through the ground or the human body. When electricity flows through a human body, several risks could result, the most serious being electrocution and death.

Current, which is measured in amperes, can cause physical damage even at very low levels. Electrical shocks can make muscles contract and move on their own, raise the heart rate and breathing rate, affect the central nervous system, cause thermal burns, and cause other serious health problems. In many cases, the current must exceed 35 mA, but anything above 80 mA has been found to cause cardiac arrest, resulting in death or severe injury. It may not take that much current to be fatal depending on the voltage source.

The severity of the injury depends on several factors, including how long the current flows through the body, how fast it flows, and its intensity. Even touching a “hot” object with another hand—creating a closed “circuit” between both hands—can allow an electric current to reach dangerous levels inside a person’s body if it is strong enough. It is important to remember that electricity will always take the path of least resistance, so a person may become electrocuted simply by touching something that they believe to be non-conductive because electricity could still flow through them if there were nowhere else for it to travel.

In order to prevent these types of scenarios from happening, electrical equipment should be regularly inspected, and all safety guidelines should be strictly followed to ensure no one gets injured or killed due to electric shock hazards. When dealing with possible electric shocks for any reason, it is best practice to assume live wires are present and always maintain a safe distance from them unless you have proper protective gear on.

Electricity is always a risk in the workplace, but if everyone knows how electric current works and takes precautions, these risks can be kept to a minimum for everyone. Turning our focus now towards the electrical equipment that workers interact with daily will help us understand what types of steps we need to take in order to protect them from potential electric shocks.

Direct Contact with Electrical Equipment

When talking about electrocution, direct contact with electrical equipment is one of the most common causes. This occurs when a worker touches an object connected to a current-carrying device, such as a power drill or other equipment. Direct contact can be hazardous and often results in death.

Direct contact with electrical equipment also makes it more likely that you will get burns or shocks that could change your life. Because of this, workers need to be conscientious when handling or working near electrical devices at work. This can be done by using tools that don’t conduct electricity, wearing clothes that don’t conduct electricity, and using ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to prevent electric shock. Additionally, it’s important to always keep in mind that water and electricity do not mix and should never be combined.

For those wondering if direct contact with electrical equipment is truly more dangerous than current flow through the body, the answer may depend on the situation. For example, when a person is exposed to 220 volts of electricity, which is the amount of voltage found in most home electrical circuits, it only takes 100 mA of current to flow through their body for them to either die or go unconscious. If a person touches an exposed wire with more than 200 volts, they may need emergency medical care because of how much electricity is getting into their body.

Workers should be aware of and take precautions against direct contact with electrical equipment so they can remain safe on the job. So, employers need to keep the workplace safe by checking equipment regularly for potential dangers and following all safety rules set by OSHA and other authorities about working with electricity.

Risk-Free Work Environment

Because electricity is so unpredictable, some accidents will inevitably happen at work. Employers have a duty to put safety first for their workers and should take steps to make the workplace as safe as possible.

Employers should recognize when hazards exist in the workplace. Employers can find these dangers by doing regular checks of all equipment and power sources. This can help find any signs of insulation breaking down or exposed wires that could hurt workers as soon as possible and keep them from getting hurt badly.

In addition to visual checks, it’s important for employers to give workers the right safety gear, like insulated gloves and protective clothing. If an employee touches live electricity, these things can reduce the chance that they will be electrocuted. They are very useful in dangerous situations. Also, using safety features like circuit breakers, ground fault interrupters, shock arresters, and surge protectors on equipment can help stop an electric surge and reduce the risk it poses.

Electrocution is a sad fact of life in many workplaces, but if employers take precautions, they can greatly reduce the chances of it happening and ensure their team has a safe workplace where they won’t get shocked or hurt. In the next section, we’ll talk about how paying attention to details and following safety rules can even reduce the risk of getting electrocuted at work.

Precautionary Practices and Safety Rules

Precautionary practices and safety rules are essential to maintaining a risk-free workplace. It is important for those in the workplace to understand any potential hazards, such as electricity, and practice safety around these hazards. One of the best ways to do this is by establishing and enforcing safety rules.

Safety rules should tell people how to use electricity properly, give them the right training on how to use electric appliances, and say that workers can’t touch live wires or other electric equipment. Safety rules should also require that electric sources be properly secured so that only trained personnel can access them. Lastly, workers should never try to fix electrical equipment out in the open without the right training and experience.

Some may argue that establishing safety rules and procedures might be overly restrictive or even micromanaged, but weighing the risks against the rewards is important. Accidents from electric shock can lead to serious injury or death, not to mention costly medical bills or litigation fees. Employers should take precautions like those listed above to make sure their workers are safe and avoid accidents or health problems that could have been avoided.

Employers can make the workplace safer for their workers by taking steps to prevent electrocution and making sure everyone knows and follows the rules when working with electricity. To this end, it is essential that employers thoroughly train their personnel on precautionary practices and safety rules when it comes to electrical use before they start working with electric equipment. With this knowledge and understanding, employers can help create an environment free from electrocutions in their workplace. Now let’s explore how we can go one step further and actually prevent electrocutions in the workplace before they even happen.

Prevention of Electrocutions in the Workplace

The best way to protect workers and prevent electrocutions in the workplace is to implement a comprehensive set of safety procedures. As part of these procedures, electrical systems should be checked regularly, risks should be evaluated, preventive maintenance should be done, and people should be taught how to act safely. Additionally, any equipment that is used must be up-to-date and certifiably safe.

Making sure that all employees are properly trained is just as important as implementing safety procedures. Ensuring that each employee understands how the equipment works, the risks involved with electricity, and the proper safety procedures should be done before any work begins. This includes refresher training for existing employees when any new technology or procedure related to electricity is introduced in the workplace.

The debate about whether working at heights or with energized equipment poses the greatest risk for electrocution in the workplace is ongoing; however, current evidence suggests that both can pose serious dangers if safety protocols are not adequately followed. Working at height requires extensive planning due to its potential risks, which include falls from ladders and scaffolding used to access places that may be out of reach. 

Safety regulations have been put in place to reduce these risks; however, even with the regulations, it is estimated that one in four falls involving ladders is fatal. As for energized equipment, OSHA states that working on or near energized circuits must always be avoided unless de-energizing is impossible. Proper training and understanding of energized circuits’ safety protocols are essential to mitigating such risks.

Employers have to work hard and be committed to making a good safety program. Companies must invest time into educating their staff on maintaining safe practices while using electrical equipment, as well as regularly conducting assessments of their workplaces and scrutinizing their use of ladders or other height accessories. Implementation of these preventative measures will ensure a safer work environment for everyone involved.

Get a FREE Case Review from an Experienced Electrocution Accident Attorney 

If you or someone you know has been injured in an electrocution accident in the workplace, contact Dervishi Law Group today at (718) 484-4757 . Our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and options and work hard to get you the maximum compensation. Don’t wait; call us now for a free consultation today!

About The Author

Fatos Dervishi, Esq.

Fatos Dervishi, Esq.

A personal injury attorney, with offices in the Bronx and Manhattan, Fatos Dervishi has years of experience handling cases in New York. Mr. Dervishi, who grew up in Albania, obtained his law degree in 1989 from the Tirana University School of Law. He then worked as a special agent of the General Investigations Office with an office in Tirana, before being elected Deputy Attorney General by the Albanian Parliament in 1994. He served as Deputy Attorney General of Albania from 1994 to 1998.

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