In the U.S., electrical accidents are a major cause of on-the-job injuries and deaths each year. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) assesses occupational electrical injury trends based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. This group found that 52 percent of the country’s total workplace electrical fatalities occur in the construction industry; and, 3,708 non-fatal electrical accident injuries occur each year, causing workers to miss four days of work on average.
Construction, utility, and manufacturing jobs record the most electrical accidents per year. In the construction industry specifically, about 9% of fatal injuries result from electrocution, as workers are exposed to multiple electrical hazards regularly.
What Workers Are Most at Risk for Electrical Accidents?
Employers are responsible for following federal and state regulations designed to protect their employees from workplace injuries. While many workers can come into contact with electricity on the job, certain occupational groups are at an increased risk of an electrocution accident.
The jobs where workers suffer the most electrical injuries are:
- Agricultural workers, including farmers and ranchers
- Building/grounds cleaning and maintenance
- Construction laborers
- Electrical powerline installers and repairers
- Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics/installers
- Industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers
- Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations
- Landscapers and groundskeepers
- Management occupations
- Material moving workers
- Painters, construction, and maintenance
- Telecommunications line installers/repairers
- Tree trimmers and pruners
- Truck drivers
What Types of Electrical Accidents Injure Workers?
Electrical injury sources most commonly include:
- Being struck by lightning
- Coming into contact with an electrical current
- Exposed electrical wires and parts
- Improper use of equipment and/or cords
- Insufficient or damaged wire insulation
- Machines, tools, appliances, or light fixtures
- Overhead powerlines
- Power supply not being grounded
- Underground (buried) powerlines
- Wet working conditions
- Wiring, transformers, or other electrical components
Electrical Accident Injuries
The injuries from an electrical accident could be minor, severe, or catastrophic, and there is a range of short- and long-term health struggles a worker may experience. Workplace electrical injuries include burns, neurological and nerve damage, cardiac arrest, muscle spasms, organ damage, and hearing loss. These accidents can cause physical disability and disfigurement and emotional and mental distress.
Other electrical accident injuries can include:
- Neurological injury
- Nerve damage
- Heart damage, heart attack, and arrhythmia
- Broken bones
- Hearing loss
- Memory loss
- Internal organ damage
- Vision loss
- Lost limbs
Electrocution symptoms depend on the severity of the shock. They include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Tingling sensations
- Muscle spasms
- Trouble breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Hearing issues
- Problems with hearing
- Compartment syndrome (internal damage)
Some electrocution symptoms may not occur immediately after the incident, so it’s best to remain cautious and seek medical attention right away.
There are four main categories of electrical injuries:
- Fatal electrocution (cardiac arrest)
- Electric shock (muscle, nerve, and tissue damage)
- Thermal burns
- Falls or other injuries after contact with electric current
In addition to electrical injuries ranging from minor to severe, electrical accidents can also cause workplace wrongful death. In fact, 126 workers died from exposure to electricity in 2020, with construction and extraction workers accounting for 44 percent of the total. In 2020, 5.3% of all electrical incidents were fatal. Two in five workers killed (40 percent) were Hispanic, an increase of 10 of those who died as a result of exposure to electricity in 2019. Research has found higher work injury rates among Hispanic workers than in the general worker population.
Which Parties Are Potentially Responsible for Electrical Accidents?
Victims of electrocution and electric shock accidents can file a lawsuit against the party or parties responsible to recover damages for their injuries. Depending on the location and cause of an electrical accident at work, many different parties may be responsible for the resulting injuries. In cases where improper transmission of electricity and/or improper construction, installation, or maintenance of powerlines caused a worker’s injuries, a utility company and/or property owner may be liable.
A contractor, supervisor, or an entire company can potentially be held legally responsible for injuries caused by a lack of proper safety guidelines. For example, if a supervisor failed to sufficiently train employees, they and/or their company may be responsible for any resulting injuries. If electrocution is caused by a defective product, then products liability law may hold the designer, manufacturer, distributor, and marketer of the product responsible for any damages caused.
Workplace Electrical Accidents Lawyers
Any job can require a worker to be near or handle items capable of transferring electricity. If your employer or another responsible party failed to provide a workplace free from electrical hazards and you suffered an electrical accident as a result, you may be entitled to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the liable parties. All of the members of Adame Garza LLP are experienced electrocution accident lawyers able to work with both English and Spanish-speaking clients from the beginning of a claim through litigation. While treating our clients with compassion and paying close attention to their needs, our trial attorneys aggressively fight for your rights against the individuals and companies that hurt you and your loved ones.