According to safety authorities, 52% of electricity-related workplace injuries and fatalities nationwide, including Georgia, happen on construction sites. It is not only electricians, overhead power line workers and engineers who face these hazards but also anyone who handles and maintains equipment powered by electricity. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety standards to prevent electrical shocks and electrocutions.
Your safety is the responsibility of your employer, and providing the necessary safety training is an excellent place to start. If you can identify potential hazards, you can avoid electrical accidents that might be fatal or cause severe electrical burns.
Common electrical hazards
Electrical safety is crucial in any workplace, and some of the following typical hazards are as prevalent in office environments as they are on construction sites:
- Wet locations: Using electrical equipment in wet conditions can be deadly, especially if it has damaged insulation. Beware of the risk of working with equipment that got wet earlier.
- Damaged equipment and tools: Electrical equipment and cords that have defects, cracks or damage are dangerous, but do not repair them if you are not an electrician. Make sure you perform lockout/tagout procedures until a qualified person can do repairs and maintenance.
- Damaged insulation: Report damaged insulation immediately, and turn off the power while waiting for an electrician to replace the insulation.
- Overloaded circuits and inadequate wiring: Ensure that electrical wires and extension cords are suitable for the currents they carry. Overloaded cables can overheat and cause fires.
- Improper grounding: OSHA reports that improper grounding causes a significant percentage of electricity-related workplace injuries. Proper grounding includes a metallic ground pin that returns the unused voltage to the ground, reducing electrocution risks.
- Exposure of electrical parts: This hazard is prevalent on temporary electrical equipment, such as lighting, exposed power distribution units and electrical cords with exposed wires. Have such items repaired immediately to avoid potential shocks or burns.
- Overhead power lines: Always comply with the 10-foot regulated minimum distance from energized overhead power cables. They carry high voltages, and any contact can cause electrocution or life-changing burn injuries.
Site inspections and hazard assessments are crucial throughout a construction project. Warning signs and safety barriers can provide some protection, but you would be wise to keep your eyes open for hidden electrical hazards and report them immediately.
How will you cope after an electrical accident?
As a member of the Georgia workforce, you can rely on the state-regulated workers’ compensation insurance program to have your back. Dealing with a benefits claim can be a daunting prospect when you want to focus on recovery and returning to work. However, you can utilize the skills of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to provide valuable support and guidance throughout the administrative and legal proceedings in pursuit of maximum compensation.