Electrical Safety in Construction: Legal Aspects of Electrical Injuries

NTZ Editor

The leading causes of construction deaths, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), are falls, being struck by equipment, being caught between objects, and electrocutions. These “Fatal Four” hazards account for 65% of all construction-related deaths, according to OSHA. In 2022, 1,069 construction workers nationwide died while on the job. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports electrocutions are responsible for 7.2% of work-related deaths in construction.

Common Causes of Electrocution Injuries and Fatalities on a Construction Site

An electrical accident on a construction site can occur due to the following:

  • The use of unsafe tools and defective equipment
  • Equipment malfunction
  • Fallen power lines
  • Exposed electrical parts and wires
  • Improperly grounded wires
  • Overloaded circuits
  • Indirect contact with live electrical equipment and wiring (including light fixtures, circuit breakers, control panels, junction boxes, and transformers)

Common Electrical Injuries

Electrical currents can cause severe internal and external injuries. While external injuries are easily visible, internal injuries can be fatal and should be recognized and treated as soon as possible. A construction worker’s electrical injuries are based on various factors, including the voltage of the current, the worker’s overall health, the amount of current flowing through the body, and the duration of electrical current exposure.

If the voltage increases beyond 500 volts, a construction worker can suffer severe injuries, including:

  • Burns: Serious burns can destroy multiple layers of skin and tissue, necessitating painful treatment such as dead tissue removal and skin grafting. Burns can also result in disfigurement.
  • Organ Damage: An electrical current can cause burns and damage to internal organs, including the heart. Following an electrical accident, seeking immediate medical attention is critical to detect any potential internal injuries.
  • Brain Damage: Electrocution can cause brain damage, including seizures, depression, shock, and lasting cognitive impairment.
  • Vision or Hearing Loss: Some construction workers may experience vision or hearing loss. Even if individuals do not entirely lose their sensory faculties, they may experience a partial loss.
  • Broken Bones: Electrocution can lead construction workers to fall from a high height. As a result, they may sustain additional traumas when they fall to the ground, including concussions, spinal cord injuries, fractures, and organ damage.

Other electrical injuries include muscle, nerve, and tissue damage from current passing through the body, numbness or tingling (often due to nerve damage), seizures, muscle spasms and pain, and problems with swallowing.

Preventing On-the-Job Electrocution Incidents

Several of the following measures will help prevent electrical injuries and fatalities on construction sites:

  • Compliance with OSHA electrical safety regulations
  • Electrical safety training for all employees
  • Properly maintained equipment
  • Advance contact with utility companies to de-energize or insulate overhead power lines; working on live electrical circuits/parts only under a permit system with specific procedures
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment
  • Proper tool usage when de-energizing or testing live electrical circuits/parts or otherwise working live
  • Properly grounded/double-insulated machinery and power tools

Who Is Responsible for Electrical Safety on a NYC Construction Jobsite?

If you’ve been in an accident on a job site and suffered an electrical injury, you may be entitled to compensation from several sources. Workers’ Compensation will pay for medical treatment and benefits for lost wages and disability.

You may also be entitled to additional compensation through a third-party lawsuit. If a third party, like a subcontractor, was negligent or you have a product liability case for defective equipment, you may seek a monetary award beyond Workers’ Compensation. Claims can include your pain and suffering, mental anguish, personal losses, and lost earnings over and above the Workers’ Compensation cap.

In addition, you may recover compensation for your pain, suffering, anguish, and other personal losses under New York Labor Laws 200 and 241, which protect construction workers by holding owners and general contractors liable for many violations. Labor Law 200 requires owners and general contractors to provide a reasonably safe workplace by shielding workers from dangers and hazards within their control. Labor Law 241 requires employers to provide adequate safety equipment to construction workers.

Contact the New York City, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan Law Offices of Nicholas E. Tzaneteas

The Law Office of Nicholas E. Tzaneteas can help victims of construction site injuries. As experienced New York City, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan construction accident attorneys and a personal injury law firm, we have helped injured clients recover millions of dollars in judgments and settlements.

If you or a loved one had a workplace accident in NYC and suffered an injury through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for substantial financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You may be entitled to benefits under Workers’ Compensation  insurance and damages from the liable parties due to negligence. An experienced construction accident attorney can help you evaluate your legal options for recovering damages from those who may be responsible. Call Nicholas E. Tzaneteas to help you navigate your claim.

Request a Free Consultation

    Accessibility Tools