There are many hazards in a construction project site. Unsecured materials can fall and endanger anyone below. Slick work surfaces can cause builders to lose footing. Even working from heights poses a fall hazard.
But if there’s one type of hazard that construction workers should be more careful about, it’s electrocution.
How often do electrical injuries and death occur in construction?
According to the latest information from Electrical Safety Foundation International, 126 workers died due to exposure to electricity, representing a 24% decrease over the electrocution deaths recorded in 2019. However, the number of nonfatal electrical accidents that led to injuries severe enough to postpone work increased by 17% to 2,220 in 2020.
Another report by the National Fire Protection Association found that 33% of fatal electrocution injuries in 2020 occurred in private residences, while 31% happened at industrial sites.
How are construction workers exposed to electrical injuries?
The NFPA noted that about three in five injuries (56%) in 2020 resulted from direct exposure to electricity – referring to instances where the worker had direct contact with the power source, such as touching a live wire.
On the other hand, two in five fatal injuries (40%) were the result of indirect exposure. Indirect exposure refers to contact with the power source through some conductive material, such as electricity running through water or an uninsulated tool touching a live wire.
The safety of construction workers
Data collected by the NFPA revealed that almost seven in 10 contractors who died due to electrocution were workers in the construction and extraction industries. The report suggests that this high incidence is because construction workers rush their work to meet tight deadlines. But this pressure can also leave them exposed to safety mistakes.
Project owners, contractors, and subcontractors are all responsible for keeping the project site safe for all workers. They must set reasonable expectations for how long a project will take and ensure that all construction work is done safely with the right tools and techniques. Any worker suffering from an electrical injury should consider contacting an attorney to help them understand their options for compensation through a third-party lawsuit.