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Construction workers at high risk for electrocution

As a New York construction worker, you face a high risk of electrocution almost every day on your various jobsites. No one need tell you that the places where you work contain numerous power tools and electrically-powered machinery and construction vehicles. The electrical injuries you could receive from any of these sources make for a hazardous work environment where you could suffer life-threatening electrocutions.

Not surprisingly, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ranks electrocutions as the number two reason in its following “Fatal Four” list of construction worker death causes.

  1. Falls

  1. Electrocutions

  1. Struck-by-object events

  1. Caught-in-between-object events

You undoubtedly are quite well aware that electricity flows through conductors such as power lines, electrical cords, etc. What you may not have thought about, however, is that if and when your body comes into contact with that flow, you become a conductor yourself. You likewise may not realize that amperages as low as 50-100 milliamperes can kill. The 120-volt electrical circuits used by your power tools generally carry 15 to 20 amperes of current, a load 300 times above that needed to kill.

Causes of electrocution

Though many electrocution injuries are nonfatal, all such injuries can produce potentially catastrophic results. Your high risk of coming into contact with live electrical wires stems from numerous sources, including the following:

  • Ungrounded wires

  • Frayed or damaged cords

  • Faulty equipment and tools

  • Contact with overhead wires by cranes, lifts, ladders, etc.

  • Poorly lighted construction sites and areas

  • Rain, snow and other inclement weather conditions

Sobering statistics

Shockingly, construction workers like you make up 61 per cent of job-related electrocution fatalities. If you work as a laborer, your risk of being among them stands at 25 percent, followed by electrical workers at 19 percent. If you are a male between 35 and 44, your risk is especially high since this demographic represents 28.3 percent of all electrocutions.

Your equipment and work environment, too, play a large part in the risk you face. Fifty-two percent of electrocutions come from electrical parts, whether faulty or not. Of these, converters, transformers and power lines represent 75 percent of the culprits.

Your best strategy for remaining as safe as possible on your various jobsites is to never take electricity for granted. Never use power equipment and extension cords carelessly. Also use only undamaged extension cords, and never attempt to fix a frayed cord with electrical tape. It goes without saying that you likewise should never plug a three-prong cord into a two-prong extension cord.

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