Construction workers face many electrical hazards on job sites, including the unpredictable movement of heavy equipment, adverse weather, improperly grounded power tools and working around hazardous overhead and buried high voltage power lines. Electrical accidents on construction sites can cause severe shocks, electrical burns and electrocution. In fact, electrocution is one of the four leading causes of fatal construction accidents. Electricity should always be treated with respect and caution. Coming into contact with voltage can cause electric current to move through your body, causing electrical shock, burns and internal organ damage. If you have been seriously injured in an electrical accident, you may require a lengthy recovery and lose a substantial amount of income.
The worker’s compensation attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin PC have dedicated our legal careers to helping injured workers in Indiana. If you have been injured in a construction accident and are having difficulty obtaining worker’s compensation benefits, please call us for a free consultation about your options. Attorneys Randy Klezmer and Nathan Maudlin have been advocating on behalf of injured Indianapolis workers for more than two decades. From representing thousands of injured workers, our attorneys have developed a deep understanding of Indiana worker’s compensation law. In fact, we authored the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Law and Practice manual, a legal reference book that other Indiana attorneys rely upon for guidance in handling these cases. If you have sustained an electrical injury and your employer is denying your claim for benefits, don’t take “No” for an answer. One of our dedicated construction accident lawyers is ready to discuss your legal rights. We will review the details of your work-related construction electrical accident and explain your legal options during a free consultation.
Types of Electrical Accidents at Job Sites
Construction workers and trades workers may sustain serious electrical injuries in many types of construction accidents. Because of the risk of burn injuries, thermal burns and electrocution, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific regulations related to electrical use at construction sites. Some of the more common electrical injury accidents include:
Power Line Accidents
Overhead and buried powers lines at construction sites are dangerous because they carry high voltage and may not be visible. Energized power lines act like a magnet and will move toward a metal object that comes too close to the line. Contact with an energized line can cause a serious shock injury or fatal electrocution. OSHA requires that construction equipment remains at a safe 10-foot distance from power lines for that reason. It is critically important to remain alert for overhead power lines if working at heights or handling long objects such as metal ladders, scaffolds, backhoes, front end loaders, cranes, raised dump truck beds, and other equipment that may contact the lines. When excavating at a construction site, it is critically important to locate underground utilities before digging. Indiana Underground Plant Protection Services is responsible for locating underground utilities. If a piece of construction equipment makes contact with an overhead power line or buried line that is energized, it can cause electrocution.
Lack of Ground Fault Protection accidents
Portable power tools and extension cords are widely used at construction sites and take a lot of wear and tear. It is not uncommon for workers to encounter older buildings at work sites that have electrical receptacles with only two slots and do not have a ground. Some workers may be tempted to break off the ground prong from the three-prong plug on a tool so that it fits into the older power receptacle. But that puts them at risk of a serious shock. A flexible cord may be damaged by sharp edges of a window, door or other surface, causing abrasion, loosened wires or exposed wires and shock. A cord assembly with improperly connected terminals is a common hazard at construction sites. Workers also frequently work with power tools in wet conditions at construction sites. OSHA requires ground fault circuit interrupters at construction sites, which serve as fast-acting circuit breakers, to reduce injuries and accidents from electrical hazards. A ground fault circuit interrupter is a major safety precaution when working in wet conditions. Shocks due to defective grounding methods are all too common.
When a strong electrical current jumps a gap in a circuit in a flashy display, a worker can suffer an arc burn if the current enters the worker’s body. Arc burns, also known as flash burns, are one of the most common injuries caused by electricity. Arcing is often caused by equipment failure. The high temperatures produced by electrical arcing can cause serous burns. Arc blasts also can cause concussions and serious ear damage.
Lack of Lockout/tag out Protection accidents
Employers have a responsibility to safeguard workers from hazardous energy sources on machines and equipment during service and maintenance. Proper lockout/tag out practices help protect workers from harmful electrical accidents. They apply when workers are working on, around or with conductors or systems that use electrical energy. If the proper lockout/tagout procedures are not followed and equipment is not tested to be sure the electrical current has been disabled, a worker may suffer a serious or fatal shock. Unfortunately, lockout/tagout regulations are among the most frequently cited violations of OSHA regulations. Workers injured on the job due to exposure to hazardous energy are out of work for an average of 24 workdays while they recuperate.
A construction worker who sustains an electrical shock while working on an elevated surface or platform may lose his balance and suffer a serious or fatal fall injury as his body reacts to the electrical current moving through his body. Falls are common in electrical accidents at construction sites.
Exposed electrical wiring, power lines, exposed hot wires, energized equipment and unfinished electrical systems can all cause electrocution or electrical burns, especially if the proper lockout/tagout procedures are not followed to ensure the electrical current is disabled at the correct times. In many accidents, electrical workers and construction workers at construction sites have touched metal objects such as ladders, aerial lifts or metal pipes that became energized through contact with overhead power lines or live electrical equipment. Electrocution is the cause of 7 percent of workplace deaths among young workers, according to OSHA. Working in tight spaces such as basement crawlspaces, attics, and utility tunnels increases the risk of an electrical accident.
Accidents involving defective electrical equipment can occur anywhere on a construction site. Faulty wiring in defective tools, industrial machinery or electrical equipment can cause a serious electrical burn injury or electrocution. A piece of equipment may have a defective design such as a lack of adequate insulation that makes it unreasonably prone to causing electrical shocks and injuries. A worker who is injured by defective equipment may be entitled to pursue a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the faulty equipment, in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Types of Electrical Injuries on Construction Sites
Electrical burns may cause more harm than is immediately apparent, including psychological effects.
Infection poses a serious risk to burn patients. Severe burns require extensive rehabilitation and reconstructive surgery.
Burns – Electrical burns are the most common type of injury related to electric shocks. They are caused by the heat produced by the flow of electric current through the body. Electricity-related burns may cause damage to limbs, internal organs and tissue. Serious tissue damage from electrical burns may lead to loss of limbs. Extensive burns over more than 40 percent of a worker’s body may cause death.
Arc Burns —The most common contact points for arc burns are the hands, head and feet. These burns may cause widespread tissue damage.
Internal Injuries—Excessive amounts of electricity moving through the body can cause internal bleeding, tissue damage, nerve and muscle damage, irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest.
Involuntary Muscle Contractions—An electrical shock may cause loss of muscle control or violent involuntary muscle contractions, causing damage to muscles and ligaments. Involuntary muscle contractions may cause a worker working on a ladder or elevated surface to lose his or her balance and fall.
Scarring and Disfigurement—An electrical burn may cause extensive scarring and disfigurement and require multiple reconstructive surgeries
Do You Qualify for Worker’s Compensation after a Construction Electrical Accident?
Businesses of all sizes in Indiana are required to provide worker’s compensation benefits to employees who are injured on the job. Independent contractors are not employees and are not covered by worker’s compensation. But there are special rules that cover independent contractors who are injured while working in construction trades.
The rules for determining who is an independent contractor are complex. It is helpful to have a knowledgeable worker’s compensation lawyer review the specific terms and conditions of your employment and evaluate your eligibility for worker’s compensation benefits. If you sustained an electrical injury on a construction job and were denied worker’s compensation medical benefits, you should talk to an attorney about your legal rights. If a company has denied your workers’ compensation, don’t take “No” for an answer. The attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin, PC are dedicated to assisting injured workers obtain their rightful benefits.
What Can You Be Compensated for After an Electrical Accident?
There are four basic types of worker’s compensation benefits available for injured employees in the State of Indiana:
- Medical expenses including doctor visits, hospital care, burn center care, medications, rehabilitation and physical therapy.
- Wage replacement benefits if your burn injuries prevent you from working. Many workers require lengthy time off work to recuperate from serious burns. Wage replacement benefits are paid in weekly installments.
- Compensation based on the severity of the injury for permanent impairments if you lose the use of a body part as a result of your work-related injury. An injured construction worker also may be entitled to compensation if a burn injury causes significant permanent scarring and disfigurement.
- Death benefits and an allowance for funeral expenses may be paid to the dependents of an employee killed in a work-related electrical accident or who dies as a result of injuries sustained in an electrical accident in the workplace.
In some construction accidents, the injury was caused by someone other than the injured worker’s employer. It may be that defective equipment or someone employed by another subcontractor on the same job site caused the electrical accident. The attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin, PC will thoroughly investigate the cause of your construction accident and identify all the potentially liable parties. If someone else’s negligence contributed to the electrical accident that caused your injuries, you may be entitled to seek additional compensation through a third-party lawsuit IN ADDITION to claiming worker’s compensation.
Why You Need a Construction Accident Lawyer
If your employer denies your claim for medical treatment after a construction accident, you may have questions about your legal rights and how to obtain the medical care you need. We have met with many workers who found themselves in the same situation.
You are entitled to speak with a worker’s compensation attorney at any time regarding your benefits related to electrical injuries in a construction accident. At Klezmer Maudlin, PC, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss the specifics of your injury.
You may appeal an employer’s denial of your worker’s compensation benefits and request a hearing before the Indiana Board of Worker’s Compensation to review the denial. A worker’s compensation lawyer can represent you in negotiating a compromise settlement and in presenting evidence at the hearing.
You also have a right to challenge a doctor’s assessment that you are recovered adequately to return to work and that you should no longer receive your disability benefits.
It’s fair to say that the Indiana worker’s compensation system is complex, with many rules about notification and deadlines to meet. If you decide to present your own case at a hearing before the Board of Worker’s Compensation, you may make a misstep that will weaken your chances of eventually obtaining benefits. For example, an attorney may be unable to bring up certain crucial evidence on appeal because you failed to introduce that evidence during the initial hearing or did not realize its significance. Our highly skilled worker’s compensation attorneys can seek benefits on your behalf while you concentrate on recovering from your electrical accident injuries and getting your life back on track. If your future depends on the outcome of the worker’s compensation case, you should trust our experience at Klezmer Maudlin, PC.