green checkmark Google Screened
  • Contact Us Today

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers

    Electrical Injuries

    electrical InjuriesElectrical injuries or death from electrocution can occur at work or home but are most common on job sites. Every year, more than 1,000 people are harmed in accidents involving electricity. Construction workers are especially susceptible to electrical accidents due to the nature of their jobs. Electrical injuries are the fourth leading cause of injury and death among construction workers.

    There are many causes of construction accidents that involve electrical injuries.  These include facilities or workplaces that fail to upkeep and maintain electrical equipment, systems, and devices in the workplace. A person or company other than the injured worker’s employer could also be responsible for electrical accidents and injuries. These liable parties include building and property owners, contractors, subcontractors, manufacturers of defective or unsafe equipment and any other third party contributing to causing the electrical shock or electrocution because of misconduct or negligence.

    Most employees who suffer an electrical injury can file for Workers’ Compensation benefits but also have the right to file a legal claim against a third party. If you are injured at work, take advantage of a free consultation with a Philadelphia construction accident lawyer. They can review your case and present options for seeking fair and just compensation for your injuries.

    What Are Electrical Hazards on Construction Sites?

    There are generally three broad categories of electrical accidents on construction sites. The most frequent type is contact with overhead power lines. The second type is when workers contact transformers and live wires. The third most common type occurs when contact is made with electrical currents while working with tools, machinery, and other appliances.

    Hazards that put workers at risk for electrical injury include the following:

    • Overhead power lines that are not adequately insulated or do not have de-energizing and grounding lines.
    • Underground power lines that are hit with metal tools or equipment while digging.
    • Improperly grounded or protected power tools or electrical equipment.
    • Electrical wiring not in proper polarity.
    • Electrical circuits without correct fuses or breakers that allow for overloads.
    • Wet conditions on the job site, as they allow for a greater amount of current to flow through the human body upon contact.
    • Failure to install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
    • Improper use of extension and flexible cords.
    • Overloaded or unapproved extension cord wires.
    • Moving trucks and other heavy equipment that strike power lines.
    • Gas-powered combustion engines.
    • Failure to have equipment locked out and tagged out.
    • Defective equipment from a manufacturer.
    • Poorly installed equipment or devices by a contractor or other party.
    • Exposed wiring and unfinished electrical systems.
    • Unsafe premises wiring.
    • Lack of inspection and maintenance of electrical equipment, tools, and installed devices.
    • Inadequate worker training.
    • Improper safety guards and procedures.
    • Contractor or subcontractor work or practices that do not account for safety.

    What Are Different Types of Electrical Injuries?

    Construction workers use many different tools and equipment in their jobs. They also are often in close contact with live wires and other high-voltage equipment. Types of electrical injuries that can occur on construction sites include the following.

    Arc Flash Injuries

    An arc flash is when an electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another or the ground. A worker can be severely injured or killed if they encounter an arc flash or when the flash ignites a worker’s clothing. A fire erupting throughout the building is not uncommon from an arc flash. Heat, pressure from the blast, and flying debris can also severely workers.

    Many hazards can cause an arc flash injury, such as:

    • Dust.
    • Tools.
    • Accidental contact.
    • Condensation.
    • Material failure.
    • Corrosion.
    • Faulty installation.

    Three factors determine the severity of an arc flash injury: proximity of the worker to the hazard, temperature of the arc, and the time it takes for a circuit to break. Injuries from an arc flash are almost always severe and require lifelong treatment. They may also render the worker unable to return to their job or work in the same capacity.

    Shock Injuries

    Shock injuries are sustained from electricity passing through the body when current enters the body at one location and leaves at another point. As a result, internal injuries can occur, including cardiac arrest, heart damage, aspiration problems, internal organ damage, and injuries to the central nervous system.

    An electrical shock has enough energy to knock a worker off balance. This is especially dangerous when the worker is on a roof, scaffolding, ladder, driving equipment, or using dangerous tools.

    Burn Injuries

    Burns can come from an arc flash or improperly grounded power tools that cause a shock. Severe burns can come from electrical equipment sparks that ignite gas fumes emitted by generators or other combustion engines.

    Various types of burns can occur:

    • Electrical burns: Injuries sustained from electric current flowing through the body.
    • Arc/flash burns: High-temperature injuries from an explosion or electric arc.
    • Thermal contact burns: Harm from direct skin contact with overheated electrical equipment.

    Fractures and Brain Injuries

    Explosions or fires from electrical problems are usually extremely powerful. Workers near the explosion can experience bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and other serious impairments.

    Electrocution

    A construction worker can die from a lethal amount of electrical energy exposure.

    Electrical-related injuries on construction sites are preventable. When not fatal, an injured worker is often left with injuries that prevent them from returning to work or working in the same capacity they did before the accident.

    Workers should get to the bottom of why the accident happened. A lawyer can help determine the liable party.

    According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), burns are the most common type of electrical injury on construction and other work sites.

    Scarring and Disfigurement

    Burns will cause horrible scarring and disfigurement. Hands, head, and feet are the most common contact points for arc burns. A worker may require reconstructive surgery, such as skin grafting and ongoing physical therapy.

    Tissue Damageelectrical injury

    Electrical burns commonly cause tissue damage that is susceptible to infection, potentially leading to limb amputation.

    Heart and Internal Damage

    Shock and electrocution can cause respiratory arrest, heart attack, and damage to the central nervous system and internal organs.

    Psychological Trauma

    Workers who suffer severe burns often endure months of painful treatment, triggering anxiety and depression. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also common among construction workers.

    Hearing and Lung Damage

    Explosions from electrical arcs are generally deafening, creating pressure waves that can damage the inner ear and collapse a lung.

    Muscle and Ligament Damage

    Electrical shock causes involuntary muscle contractions, resulting in permanent damage to muscles and ligaments.

    Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

    Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a type of muscular disorder that can develop due to electric shock. Also known as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), RSD occurs when blood vessels contract but fail to reopen, causing ongoing pain and extreme coldness.

    How Can Worksite Electrical Injuries Be Prevented?

    Most electrical injuries in the workplace are preventable. The pressure to meet deadlines can compromise safety if workers or managers take hazardous shortcuts, such as not de-energizing electrical circuits to avoid downtime in other areas.

    When a worker is injured or killed by electrocution, the employer must find out the cause and correct the problem. Protective measures employers can take to prevent electrical accidents include:

    • De-energize high-voltage lines. Disconnect equipment or device from its energy source.
    • Operate electric power tools away from combustion engines or other areas where there may be dust or flammable gas or liquids.
    • Inspect power cords to ensure they are not frayed or worn.
    • Develop and teach adequate lockout-tagout systems.
    • Provide and require employees to wear protective equipment.
    • Insulate tools and other devices.
    • Establish safety guards, signage, and physical barricades around high-voltage equipment.
    • Ensure all work equipment and devices are marked with high-voltage warnings.
    • Undergo regular inspections and maintenance of electrical-related equipment and installations by a qualified electrical expert.
    • Install GFCIs.
    • Ground low-voltage equipment, tools, and other devices to add secondary protection.
    • Establish and train on safety practices.
    • Teach employees who work on cranes, front loaders, backhoes, and similar equipment to never operate near power lines. Also, workers on ladders or scaffolds should never work within 10 feet of power lines.

    If employees must work on circuits that are not de-energized, the employer should develop and enforce safety practices to prevent all workers from direct or indirect electrical contact. These practices could include the following:

    • Obtain an energized electrical work permit.
    • Provide adequate personal protective equipment with sanctions.
    • Insulate tools.
    • Develop a written safety program that requires ongoing training and testing.
    • Train each employee on careful and safe work practices when they begin employment and as refresher courses.

    Who Can Be Liable for an Electrical Accident?

    Workers’ Compensation insurance shields employers from liability for work-related injuries. An employee who receives Workers’ Compensation benefits after a workplace injury cannot sue their employer. However, in many instances, third parties can be sued and held liable for electrical injuries, including:

    • Contractors or subcontractors.
    • Building premises owners.
    • Manufacturers or dealers of defective equipment and tools.
    • Manufacturers of electrical systems and equipment such as transformers and electrical substations
    Galfand Berger Icon In fact, in one of the largest pretrial settlements involving an electrocution wrongful death case in Pennsylvania, we demonstrated that defective equipment caused an electrician’s death. The property owner and the electrical switchgear manufacturer were held liable for damages, which were paid to the electrician’s widow and her two children.

    How Can a Lawyer Help Me After an Electrical Construction Accident?

    The law states that employers have a duty of care to keep workers safe while on the job. This includes ensuring the job site is safe from electrical hazards as well as educating workers on the dangers of working with electricity.

    In Pennsylvania, the Workers’ Compensation program operates on a no-fault system, which means that employees injured at work do not need to prove negligence to receive benefits. Instead, being injured at work entitles employees to subsidized medical treatment and a partial replacement of lost wages. Receiving benefits means that an injured employee gives up the right to file a lawsuit against their employer. However, a lawyer can still help them negotiate a settlement with Workers’ Compensation.

    When a third party is responsible for injuries, a worker can file a lawsuit for damages against the liable party. Third-party liability examples include:

    • A utility company that did not properly secure a job site and protect constructions workers nearby.
    • A manufacturer whose work equipment or product did not meet electrical safety guidelines or was defective in other ways causing electrical injury.
    • A building owner who did not properly inspect and maintain electrical systems throughout the building.
    • A contractor who installed scaffolding too close to live power lines.
    • A building manager who failed to warn workers of a potential electrical safety hazard adequately.

    A lawyer will use their skills to determine who is responsible for your injuries. They will collect compelling evidence and testimonies to build a solid case. If successful, you might receive compensation for the following:

    • Medical costs, current and future.
    • Past and future pain and suffering.
    • Lost income and diminished earning power.
    • Lost employee benefits.
    • Burns, disfigurement, and scarring.
    • Loss of body part function or usage.
    • Psychological injuries and emotional suffering, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

    Hiring a construction accident lawyer can potentially add thousands of dollars to your settlement. If a third party is liable for your injuries, a lawyer will negotiate or litigate to get you what you are owed.

    Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Can Help You if a Construction Accident Caused Your Electrical Injury

    If you have been injured in a construction accident and have an electrical injury, we are happy to review your case. Our Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP can advocate for you. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or complete our online form for a free consultation. We serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg, from our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania.