As a construction worker, you face a high risk of electrocution even if your chosen trade is not that of an electrician. Unfortunately, all construction workers face this risk because your job requires you to work with and around numerous kinds of electrical equipment and tools. You may not realize it, but it takes only 50-100 milliamperes of electricity coursing through your body to kill you. Most common electrical tools carry a voltage of 15-20 amperes.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration consequently ranks electrocution as the number two cause of construction worker deaths on its “Fatal Four” list:
- Struck-by-object accidents
- Caught-in-between-object accidents
Why electrocutions occur
Construction electrocution accidents occur for a variety of reasons:
- You come into contact with a damaged or frayed electrical cord.
- You come into contact with an ungrounded electrical cord.
- You come into contact with a cord that you or a coworker improperly attached to an extension cord.
- You come into contact with an improperly maintained electrical tool or piece of electrical equipment.
While none of these construction electrocution accidents will automatically kill you, electrical burns represent some of the most serious and painful burns you can sustain. Not only can you expect to experience an extended stay in a hospital burn unit, but you can also expect to undergo multiple painful debridement procedures and surgeries as doctors struggle to minimize the damage and disfiguring scars that electrical burns produce.
Electrocution fatality statistics
Although electrocution accidents do not always result in death, the statistics are grim when it comes to construction worker electrocution accidents. These accidents represent 61% of annual U.S. construction deaths nationwide. Perhaps not surprisingly given that construction work tends to attract young men, nearly 30% of these electrocution fatalities happen to men between the ages of 35 and 44. On the other hand, it may surprise you to learn that construction laborers account for 25% of these fatalities while electricians themselves account for only 19%.