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What you need to know about working with electricity

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2018 | Firm News

Working in construction, offshore drilling and inland oil drilling exposes you to many potential dangers. Even when safety precautions are taken, you still run the risk of being hurt on the job. Faulty wiring, a short in wiring, damaged or frayed electrical cords or defective products could lead to you experiencing an electrical shock.

A shock greater than 500 volts can cause serious injury. About 1,000 people die each year from electrocution in the U.S., and most of these injuries occur while people are at work.

OSHA regulates safety for workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides standards businesses must follow to minimize electrical hazards for employees in the U.S. These standards regulate exposed and operating parts of electrical installations like lighting, motors, equipment, machines, appliances and electrical enclosures. OSHA also requires that these elements be tested and certified by approved testing organizations before use in the workplace.

Certain materials conduct electricity better

Electricity flows better through some materials, like metal and the surface of the earth. Materials like dry wood, glass, plastic and clay are insulators and can slow or stop electricity. In general, water is a poor conductor, but when combined with other elements, it becomes a much better conductor. Wet wood is a good conductor. Moist human skin acts as a conductor. Anyone working with electricity in a damp environment should exercise extra caution.

An electrical shock can cause severe injuries

Electricity moves in closed circuits through a conductor. When it comes in contact with you, your body becomes a part of that circuit. A person encountering a severe electrical shock may experience loss of muscle control, extreme pain, respiratory arrest, muscle contractions and nerve damage. If the voltage is high enough, you can also suffer cardiac arrest or severe electrical burns.

A person being shocked can also freeze

A person being electrocuted may also freeze in place because he or she is unable to let go of the source due to loss of muscle control. If you see a coworker who cannot let go of a live electrical current, you should try to shut off the source immediately. If you cannot do that, grab a dry board or something made of glass or plastic to push your coworker away from the source. You should not directly touch him or her because you could become part of the electrical circuit as well.

If you have been involved in an electrical accident while on the job, you may be suffering from some severe and painful injuries. You could need surgery, rehabilitation or long-term care. You may want to reach out an attorney experienced in representing individuals dealing with personal injuries. He or she might be able to help you recover money for your medical costs and hold the responsible party accountable.