Curtailing Construction’s Fatal Four – Eliminating Injuries from Electricity

Power_Lines_2The “Fatal Four” of construction are falls, electrocutions, workers being caught in or between objects, and worker being struck by objects. In the United States, these hazards consistently account for over 50% of construction worker deaths annually. This translates into the deaths of over 899 workers on a yearly basis. In our four part blog post series, we will examine each hazard and highlight the steps companies are taking to not only ensure compliance with workplace legislation but create a proactive, performance-driven culture to transform their organization.

Electrocutions are the Enemy

“Electrocution” means to kill with electricity and is the result of a human being exposed to lethal amounts of electrical energy. Electrocutions kill 74 construction workers every year.

Electrocutions are the worst form of workplace electrical hazards. The group of hazards can be identified by the acronym “BE SAFE” and include:

B-Burns: The most common shock related injury

E-Electrocution: When a person is exposed to a lethal amount of electricity

S-Shock: The reflexive answer of the body to having an electrical current enter and exit the body

A-Arc Flash: When there is a sudden release of electrical energy that results in an intense light that can cause burns

F-Fire: Electrical fires resulting from old wiring or problems with cords can cause significant injuries

E-Explosions: An explosion can occur when electricity ignites an explosive mixture in the air

On the list of the ten most frequently violated OSHA standards, two of them are related to electricity. At number ten, violations of OSHA’s “Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry” standard. This standard governs conductor specifications, workspace safety when in the vicinity of electrical equipment, and the installation of easily visible warning signs. At number eight, violations of OSHA’s “Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, and general industry” standard. This standard basically boils down to storing equipment correctly, organizing systems to prevent accidents, and setting limits on maximum electrical capacity to prevent overloading.

Eliminate Electrical Hazards, Electrify Your Bottom Line

Though they occur less frequently overall, incidents involving electrical hazards are far more likely than other fatal four hazards to result in severe injuries and death. As such, the benefits companies can receive from complying are stark: if a company works to comply with OSHA’s regulations, they will essentially be saving the life or livelihood of any worker who works with electrical equipment. This is in addition to the cost savings that can result from safety, which, as we’ve discussed, can be well over $1 million.

Electrocutions can be an especially intimidating hazard, but they are preventable. With the well-being of your workers, your bottom line, and your business’ reputation at stake, you should be more than energized enough to begin taking steps toward compliance.

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