As Milwaukee electricians know, working safely with electricity requires caution. Electricity is everywhere in workplaces—lighting offices, powering machines in manufacturing and giving life to construction tools.
Far too often, however, working with electricity on construction sites results in shocks that cause injuries requiring medical treatment, time away from the job and workers’ compensation benefits.
Common electrical hazards
According to the federal government’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), electricity poses one of the most common hazards in the construction industry. Let’s look at some common electrical hazards on job sites.
- Overhead power lines: Bodily contact or contact with equipment – or even being too close to overhead power – can cause burns, other serious bodily damage or death. OSHA mandates minimum distances from overhead lines for lifts and other equipment. More than half of all electrocutions involve direct worker contact with power lines.
- Improper grounding: This is the most frequent electrical violation cited by OSHA. The metal parts of an electrical system touched by workers (conduit, switch plates, light fixtures, etc.) should be grounded. Likewise, parts of a motor plugged into an improperly grounded circuit might become energized and hazardous.
- Inadequate wiring: Electrical equipment can overheat and catch fire when inappropriate-size wire for current is used in connections.
- Exposed electrical parts: This hazard is often present in temporary lighting, detached insulation on extension cords, open power distribution units, etc. Risks around this hazard include shocks and burns.
- Wet conditions: A common occurrence in Wisconsin, wet conditions can make workers easy paths for electrical current, often involving damaged insulation, tools or equipment.
Experts say it’s important for construction to always proceed with extreme caution around on-the-job electricity in tools, heavy equipment and power lines. It’s also crucial for workers to leave electrical work to those with proper training and gear.
Serious electrical injuries can also result in time away from work. Workers’ compensation benefits are available to those who have been injured on the job. If you or a loved one suffers an injury on a construction site due to an electrical hazard, it’s important to remember that workers’ comp benefits are available to help you pay for your injuries and time away from work.