Electricity is a major cause of death for those who work in construction. The United States Occupational and Safety Health Administration notes that violation of its electrical standards is one of the top 10 citation areas each year. In 2019, electrocution was the third leading cause of construction worker deaths across the country.
It behooves all North Carolina construction companies to honor National Electrical Safety Month. Construction workers' lives depend on the trust they place in their industry to implement the latest safety devices designed to lower injury or death from electrocution at work.
North Carolina construction companies can minimize risk
OSHA encourages all construction employers to set aside time in May, 2019, to inspect, identify and remedy potential electrocution hazards that may threaten their employees. All construction employers, contractors or builders whose employees work with or near electricity should:
- Hire a certified construction electrician to monitor job-site work; prevention is far less costly than paying workers' comp to a severely harmed employee.
- Set up a regular inspection schedule of all electrically-operated equipment.
- Immediately remove defective tools from service until repair or replacement takes place; remedy on-site hazard areas that contain live electricity dangerous to workers.
- Find or create a state-wide, regularly updated chart of North Carolina construction electrocutions; be sure to state the cause for each accident.
- Train employees on arc flash explosions caused by short circuits.
- Institute a program so that any employee who notices and reports a potential tool or work-site electrocution hazard receives a monetary award.
Emphasize safety training issues
Explain to workers in a weekly electrocution-avoidance training meeting that protection from electrocution depends on staying a safe distance from power sources. Any cordless tools or cord tools plus extension cord inspection must occur each day before use. All employees should carry ground-fault circuit interrupters supplied by their company. Existing workers must attend a class in the proper use of this equipment; each new hire must also attend the course. A construction company may want to announce that a worker not using an interrupter when necessary will lose his or her job.
An engineer, planner or supervisor on a construction excavation work site should first obtain a blueprint or map from the governing electric utility company that shows the location of all underground electric lines and power sources at the work site. Compare the electric company schematics to the excavation plans each day to ensure that excavation work does not disrupt a power line and electrify the ground.
Any worker who is the victim of electrocution during working hours, whether at or away from the construction site, may want to file a workers' compensation claim. A victim of electrocution or the person's family may want to immediately contact a professional who has experience in understanding and defending those injured by construction hazards. Workers harmed due to hazardous working environments may receive compensation for current or future loss of income due to injury, medical bill payments, and a possible award for pain and suffering.