Some industries pose serious risk of electrocution and electrical injuries. According to statistics provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 66 workers died by electrocution in the construction industry in 2012.
If an electrical injury happens at work, the injured party may be able to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits to cover the costs of:
- medical treatment;
- rehabilitation; and
- to collect disability benefits.
Electrical injuries can be extremely painful, and can lead to further complications throughout the rest of an individual’s life.
The following discusses:
- injuries related to electricity;
- who is at the highest risk at work; and
- what an injured party can do to seek compensation.
Depending on the amperage of an electrical current, electrical injuries may range from relatively mild pain to coma or death. A study that appeared in Injury Prevention in 2002 asserted that electrocution was “the fifth leading cause of occupational injury death in the United States, and a particular hazard to those whose work routinely brings them into close proximity to electrical sources.”
Electrical injury that does not result in death can still cause a variety of injuries. MedlinePlus states that “electric current can cause injury in three ways,” which include:
- cardiac arrest;
- the destruction of tissue, muscles, and nerves from the current moving throughout the body; and
- thermal burns as a direct result of coming into contact with an electrical sources.
Within these three categories, there are common symptoms that often manifest after an electrical accident.
Electrical accident symptoms, according to MedlinePlus, may include:
- heart attack;
- broken bones;
- change in consciousness;
- headaches or problems with vision, hearing, or swallowing;
- irregular heartbeat;
- muscle pains and/or muscle spasms;
- numbness or tingling; and
Affected individuals should seek medical treatment immediately after an accident. Furthermore, those in at-risk positions should be extremely careful when around electrical sources to prevent unnecessary injuries.
Jobs at High Risk of Electrocution and Electrical Injury
Some positions, more than others, put workers at a higher risk of electrical injury. Naturally, electricians and other electrical workers are at a high risk of these injuries because of the nature of their work, as they are constantly required to fix and maintain sources of electricity.
Beyond this, according to an article titled “Worker Deaths By Electrocution: a Summary of NIOSH Surveillance and Investigative Findings,” originally published in May of 1998 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over the period of 1980 to 1992 the “industries with the highest percentage of electrocutions were:
- construction (40 percent);
- transportation, communication, and public utilities (16 percent);
- manufacturing (12 percent); and
- agriculture, forestry, fishing (11 percent).”
Those employed in positions in these fields should remain careful when working around electrical sources so as to avoid injuries.
Contact a Workers’ Comp Attorney
Seek medical treatment immediately after an electrical injury. Keep in mind, though, that your employer can choose your medical care, but is responsible for your medical bills. While your employer can choose your medical provider, if you require emergency medical treatment you do not have to first seek approval.
You may also be entitled to disability benefits if you must miss more than three days of work. If you suffered permanent injury, you might be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits. If you lost a loved one by electrocution, you may be entitled to death benefits. Talk to an attorney about the workers’ comp benefits for which you may qualify.