There are a number of occupations for which workers are commonly exposed to electrical hazards, including machine operators, construction workers and linemen, but on some level nearly every occupation involves the possibility of electrocution, even if the possibilities are small. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 there were 174 workplace fatalities that were directly related to electricity and there were another 156 in 2012, so this is not a small problem.
There are actually several types of accidents directly related to electricity. The first one, and the most common, is electric shock. Because our bodies are made up of approximately 75 percent water, they are really good conductors of electricity. While almost every one of us has received a minor shock at one point or another, moderate to severe shocks can cause us to lose our ability to breathe and, in some cases, it can lead to heart attack and/or death.
Another type of accident is an electrical burn. This happens when a worker receives a shock that is strong enough to burn body tissue. These types of burns are usually external and affect the skin, but they can also be internal, if the electrical current passes along the bone to deep tissue. The injuries for this type of accident, as you can imagine, can be extremely serious.
Of course, the worst type of electrical accident is the electrical fire. In some cases, such fires can involve an entire building and result in injuries to multiple people. If flammable materials are stored in the immediate area of an electrical fire, they can lead to an explosion. What makes them most dangerous, however, comes when you try to put out the fire with the wrong equipment. If you use water or a water-based extinguisher, it is very possible for the fire to spread.
Again, electrocution happens because of the body’s natural ability to conduct electricity. If a worker comes in direct contact with an electrically energized surface, the current can enter the body at one contact point, travel through the body and exit at a second contact point, which is usually the ground. Even when low level currents travel through the body, depending on how they travel, they can cause a number of different injuries. Moreover, even a mild electrocution can cause a collision or a fall that can result in serious injury or death.
At different levels, electricity can have a different effect on the body, and transition from mild to extreme exposure the longer the victim is exposed.
The level of exposure will usually progress this way:
- Tingling sensations
- Muscle contractions and sudden pain
- Involuntarily letting go of anything in your hand, like a rail or a tool.
- Paralysis of the respiratory system
- Ventricular fibrillation and pressure on the heart
- Organs and tissue begin to burn
Electrocution in the workplace usually comes from employer negligence on some level. It can be caused by frayed or old wires or loose connectors, machines that have not been properly grounded or wires that are improperly placed, such as under carpets or under equipment. All workplaces should have policies and procedures in place to keep all workers safe when working with or around electricity. It is also vital that all workers be trained with regard to electrical safety measures.
If either you or a loved one suffered any kind of electrocution injury, you should contact the experienced Electrical Injury Attorneys at Blizzard Greenberg PLLC to help you file a claim and recover for your injuries and damages, including your medical expenses, lost earnings and your pain and suffering. We can help you protect your rights under Texas and federal law.