Electrocuted at work?
Find out if you qualify for workers’ compensation.
Electricity is so common and ubiquitous that it’s often taken for granted. It’s easy to forget just how dangerous electricity can be if not handled with respect and caution. This tendency to overlook the hazards of electrical accidents is perhaps why electrocution is still a major cause of fatal injuries in the workplace today.
In Arizona, most workers injured in an electrical accident at work are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits from their employer—regardless of who’s fault the accident was. These benefits should cover your medical expenses and lost wages. If a worker is killed in a fatal electrocution, then their surviving spouse and family should be able to obtain wrongful death benefits for funeral and burial costs as well.
However, electrical accidents at work are often more challenging and complex than other work injury claims because the injuries are so severe that victims may need to pursue additional sources of compensation, such as from a property owner or manufacturer of a defective tool or device. For this reason, we recommend contacting an experienced Arizona workers’ compensation attorney if you were hurt in an electrical accident at work.
At the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski, we can make sure you receive full and fair compensation for your work-related injury. For over 43 years, we have provided timely, dedicated representation to thousands of severely injured workers across Arizona.
Workers’ compensation is all we do, and we do it well.
Without professional representation, many injured workers fail to receive the justice and compensation they deserve.
Injured workers aren’t the only ones responsible for preventing workplace injuries. Employers also bear some of the responsibility in the event of a workplace accident.
We can help you understand your legal options and determine how much compensation you’re owed. There’s no initial consultation fee to discuss your case with our experienced work injury attorneys and no upfront fees if you hire us to represent you. You only pay if we are successful in obtaining benefits for you.
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Statistics on occupational electrocution and electrical accidents
- 739 workers died from exposure to electricity between 2012 and 2016.
- There were 2,210 nonfatal electrical injuries in 2017. 0.25% of all nonfatal injuries resulting in days away from work could be attributed to electricity.
- Workers who were fatally injured as a result of indirect exposure to electricity were most often engaged in construction, repairing, or cleaning activities (37%) or were using or operating tools or machinery (32%) at the time of injury.
- Electrocution is one of the leading causes of fatal workplace accidents in the construction industry (one of the “Fatal Four”).
- The utility industry had the highest rate of fatal electrical injuries.
- Contact with/exposure to electric current accounted for 2.6% of all workplace fatalities, and is the sixth most common type of workplace fatality.
- Younger workers are more likely to experience electrical injuries. Workers between 16-17 years old experienced electrical fatalities at 5.4 times the average for other age groups.
- The average number of days spent away from work after a nonfatal electrical injury was 10.
Causes of electrical accidents at work
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), almost all electrical accidents at work are caused by one of the following 3 factors:
1. Unsafe equipment or installation
2. Unsafe environment
3. Unsafe work practices
In particular, some of the most common causes of electrocution and electrical injuries in the construction industry and similar occupations include:
- Contact with power lines
- Lack of ground-fault protection
- Path to ground missing or discontinuous
- Equipment not used in a proper manner
- Improper use of extension and flexible cords
Top occupations for on-the-job electrical accidents
Electricians and utility workers are obviously some of the most at-risk professions for electrocution and other electrical injuries due to their line of work. However, they’re not the only ones who face electrical hazards on the job site.
Workers in other occupations must also be careful to avoid an electrical accident at work. The most at-risk people include:
- Construction workers
- Extraction laborers and mining crew
- Energy industry employees
- Manufacturing workers
- Real estate and rental employees
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation personnel
- Crane operators
- Industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers
- Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics/installers (HVAC)
- Telecommunications line installers/repairers
- Tree trimmers and pruners
- Landscapers and groundskeepers
- Truck drivers
- Agricultural workers
Although young workers are more likely to be electrocuted, even employees with decades of experience can be injured in electrical accidents at work.
Take the case of Ricardo Castillo. Castillo, a Phoenix APS electrician, was working with a coworker in an underground electrical vault when a fire broke out. Castillo was killed and his co-worker suffered burn injuries. Tragic stories such as these are the stuff of nightmares for those who work in the industry and are far too common.
Types of work-related electrical injuries
A small electrical shock might be unpleasant but not seriously damaging, but a high voltage shock from a large machine or device that requires more than 10 milliamperes of electricity can prove serious or even deadly. Electrical accidents can also spark fires and explosions in the workplace.
Injuries caused by an electrical current can be both direct and indirect. For instance, if a roofer grabs an electrocuting object, the initial wave of electricity might cause electrical burns and organ damage (direct injuries). However, the electrocution could also cause the roofer to fall from the scaffolding he’s standing on and hit the ground, resulting in a traumatic brain injury (indirect injury).
Electrical injuries can vary widely depending on how and where the electrocution happens. Some common examples of injuries suffered after electrical accidents at work include:
- Severe burns (electrical, arc or flash, thermal contact burns)
- Tissue destruction
- Internal organ damage
- Nerve, muscle and tendon damage
- Broken bones
- Cardiac arrest (heart attack)
- Brain injury
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory failure (difficulty breathing)
- Extreme pain
How to prevent electrical hazards in the workplace
When you’re dealing with high voltage, anything can happen—which is why it’s important to always be prepared and cautious to avoid electrical accidents at work. Practicing basic electrical safety on the job can save your life.
OSHA recommends starting with these steps:
- De-energize electric equipment before inspection or repair
- Repair or replace exposed outlets, broken wires, lines, batteries, and appliances
- Create a low-resistance path that connects to the earth to prevent the buildup of voltages that could cause an electrical accident (known as “grounding”).
- Exercise caution when working near energized lines
- Implement safe work practices
- Thoroughly train employees on safety procedures
- Regularly inspect the quality and safety of equipment and electric tools
- Use insulation to prevent shock, fires, and short circuits
- Install proper guarding to make sure people don’t accidentally come into contact with live parts.
- Incorporate circuit protective devices that limit or stop the flow of current automatically in the event of a ground fault, overload, or short circuit in the wiring system (for example, fuses, circuit breakers, ground-fault circuit interrupters, arc-fault circuit interrupters, etc.).
- Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) required for the jobs you’re performing such as rubber insulating gloves, hoods, sleeves, matting, blankets, line hose, and industrial protective helmets designed to reduce electric shock hazard.
Workers’ compensation for electrical accidents at work
Did you or a loved one already experience an electrical accident on the job? If so, all the prevention strategies in the world can’t help you turn back time to erase the pain and devastation this incident has caused you and your family. Likely, your best option for recourse is to seek monetary compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages through the workers’ compensation system.
If you suffer an electric shock or electrocution in the workplace and are seriously injured as a result, then you most likely qualify for workers’ compensation.Arizona workers’ compensation law is a no-fault system, which means injured workers don’t have to prove negligence or fault in order to receive benefits from their employer.
However, the process of filing a work injury claim can be complicated and confusing, and one misstep can be enough to result in a denial of your claim. In addition, there may be complicating factors such as when third parties are liable for an electrical accident, such as a vendor, contractor or equipment manufacturer.
An experienced Arizona workers’ compensation attorney can explore every possibility and ensure you get the best possible compensation from all responsible individuals and companies.
Read more: How to Apply for Workers’ Comp
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Mr. Wisniewski has been recognized as the premier workers’ compensation lawyer in Arizona. He is the only claimants’ attorney recognized as a Fellow of The College of Workers’ Compensation.
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Our Arizona work injury attorneys can fight for your compensation
It’s not always easy to determine who is ultimately responsible for your medical bills, lost wages and other damages in the event of a workplace accident. Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state, and the legal process can be confusing.
Insurance companies have teams of lawyers representing them who are trying to limit their liability and reduce or eliminate your compensation right now, which is why you should consult an expert attorney near you who will defend your rights.
At the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski, we can help you secure the full and fair compensation you deserve. We will help you file an injury claim with the Industry Commission of Arizona and fight to appeal a denied claim if necessary.
We’re prepared to use our experience, expertise, resources and passion to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Why hire our Arizona workers’ comp lawyers?
- We understand the special needs of an injured worker
- Trained and helpful staff
- Personal attention to clients
- Calls promptly returned
- Clients kept up-to-date on case
- State-wide service
- Aggressive & experienced representation
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While our main law office is in downtown Phoenix, we handle workers’ compensation claims throughout Arizona – including Yuma, Kingman, Payson and Flagstaff.