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Are construction workers at high risk of electrocution?

In one year's survey, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that the fourth ranking cause of on-the-job deaths in the construction industry was electrocution.

In that year, 9 percent of the 1,243 deaths in the industry were attributed to electrocution. The mortality rate was highest for those who installed and repaired electrical power and also earth drillers. Occupations in the field of construction with the highest annual mortality average from electrocution were:

-- Electricians, with 29 deaths.

-- Construction laborers came in second with nine.

-- Managers and supervisors had 13 fatal on-the-job events.

-- Electrical installers and repairers came in last with 10 deaths.

Many of these electrocution deaths are preventable by making sure that all safety precautions on the job site are followed to the letter, including:

-- Ensuring that no equipment is located or operated near live power lines.

-- Flagging warning lines both vertically and horizontally to mark distance clearances.

-- Before firing up cranes or other equipment requiring overhead clearance, determine that the power company confirmed the voltage and distance from the power lines where it is safe for work to commence.

-- Prior to beginning work, making sure that the utility company de-energized and grounded all power lines, or alternatively, enclosed them in insulated sleeves.

-- Only using non-conductive materials and tools.

Supervisors and project managers can also make a construction site safer by employing observers, boom cage guards, insulated links and proximity devices.

Those construction workers who are lucky enough to survive contact with an energized source are usually left with severely disabling and often disfiguring permanent injuries. Seeking legal redress through the New York civil court system may be necessary.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Construction  Focus Four: Electrocution Hazards," accessed July 10, 2015

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