Electrocution is a serious risk for construction workers, but there are several things they can do to lower their chances of becoming a victim.
According to The Center for Construction Research and Training, the most recent statistics show that the top two causes for construction deaths over an 11-year period were electrical wiring and equipment, and overhead power lines. The fatality rate was also the highest for this specific job at 34 percent, or 586 lives. However, there are things that people in the Twin Cities area can do to protect themselves from a workplace injury.
Wear the right gear
Construction sites are generally busy places with a large amount of electrical equipment, wires and power lines. One way that workers can lower their risk of an electric shock is to wear the right gear such as the following:
- Clothing made from flame-resistant materials
- Leather work boots
- Gloves insulated with rubber
- Safety glasses
- Hand tools that are insulated
Additionally, people should avoid having any metal on them, such as car keys, jewelry or watches as metal is a known conductor for electricity.
Use power tools correctly
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that construction workers should use power tools in a safe manner. When tool parts are being replaced or the tool is not being used, it should be unplugged. Additionally, people should inspect their equipment to make sure that it is in good condition before switching on the power. If people find any wear or tear to the cord, it should be replaced with a new one.
Tools are often taken all over the worksite and great care should be taken to make sure that they are transported correctly. Workers should never use the cord to move the tool. Additionally, workers should make sure that they are not putting the tools in a place that is damp or wet, as this can increase their risk of electrocution.
Install ground-fault circuit interrupters
A ground-fault circuit interrupter is designed to detect unnatural amounts of electricity that are building up and then cut the electrical current to prevent an electric shock from occurring. On a worksite, three types of these circuit interrupters can be used. One is the circuit breaker GFCI, which as the name indicates, monitors the whole circuit. The second is the receptacle GFCI, which monitors an outlet and is placed into the outlet box. The third is the temporary or portable GFCI, and these are used when the other two can't be. It is usually in the form of an extension cord.
Follow lockout or tagout processes
During the tagout or lockout process, workers should make sure that circuits and equipment are de-energized, they know where the energy source shut-offs are located, verify that all workers are accounted for prior to energy sources and equipment being turned on again and empty out energy that has accumulated.
Even when workers in Minnesota have taken all of the necessary precautions, accidents can still happen. Therefore, they may find it helpful to meet with an attorney experienced in workplace injuries.