Electricity is a part of our daily lives, and we tend to forget that it has the potential to be extremely dangerous, and could cause accidents that are catastrophic. All industries utilize electricity and all workers are exposed to it; therefore, there is always a possibility of an electrical injury, either through the use of machinery or devices, or due to short circuits. Employees of certain professions, such as electricians and construction workers, are at a higher risk of suffering electrical injuries, since their jobs often involve working directly with the electricity of a building or with electricity powered tools.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recognized electricity as a serious workplace hazard. Electrocutions have caused several deaths at workplaces and it is essential that employers take all possible precautions against this hazard. Employers in Atlanta, Georgia have a legal obligation to take all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent electrical injuries and deaths. If such an injury occurs, workers’ compensation coverage is available to provide wage benefits, medical benefits, and even death benefits.
What Can Employers Do To Prevent Electrical Injuries?
There are many steps that Atlanta, Georgia employers in any industry can take to prevent workplace injuries and deaths related to electrocution. For example, they can inspect the premises regularly, be sure to remove damaged wiring, replace old wiring, and work with skilled electricians for the work, rather than allowing or requesting that employees who are not trained electricians to take care of this. They can also work to avoid overloading outlets, use the appropriate bulbs for light fixtures, and conduct testing on all electrical equipment before use.
Beyond this, employers can discuss electrical safety with employees who are at risk of electrocution from the tools that they use, seek out and identify any electrical hazards, and ensure that proper safety equipment is used at all times.
How Can Employees Respond to an Electrical Accident or Injury?
Because electrical accidents and injuries can cause severe and immediate damage, it is important for employees who work with electrical tools and components to know what to do when such an incident occurs, not just for themselves, but for their co-workers, who may be unable to do anything to help themselves once such an incident occurs.
For starters, let’s look at what happens when someone is injured through an electrical accident at work. The person may have serious burn injuries, a heart attack, or damaged internal organs, muscles, nerves, and tissues, when they have a direct encounter with an electrical current. Thus, the employee who is injured is likely to be in no condition to do anything in response to the injury. If you are the injured employee, and you are not incapacitated, such as in cases of external burns or a shock that incapacitates you only briefly, you need to seek immediate medical treatment. Further, you should be attuned to your body and any indications of internal damage that might require emergency treatment. Never walk away from an electrical injury without reporting it and alerting others to what has happened. You could end up suffering from a severe medical condition, and you need others to be aware of what has happened.
If you are an employee who witnesses someone who is injured by an electrical hazard, or if you come upon someone who is unconscious, potentially due to an electrical injury, you need to call 911. It is important to avoid touching the person until the electrical current is broken. You may be tempted to reach out for them, to help them, but doing so could cause injury to yourself, as well, making both of you incapable of seeking help. Before touching or attempting to provide first aid to the person, you need to cut off the electrical current. This does not mean that you should just turn off the given machine or the lights, or whatever it is that is causing the issue. Rather, you need to unplug the machine or remove a fuse, as the case may be.
If this is not an option, you can attempt to push the person away from the current with an object that will not conduct electricity to your body. Again, do not touch the person with any part of your own body, and do not use an object that will conduct electricity. Some examples of objects that you could use to push the person away from the electrical current include objects that are made of rubber or wood, though it is important that the objects not be wet, because water does conduct electricity. You may have a dry wooden broom or chair that you could use, though anything with metal should not be used. Many chairs, brooms, etc. may have metal parts, so be aware of this before attempting to help with an unsafe object.
Once the electrical current is broken, the person may fall. Do not move them unless they are still at risk of further injury, such as a potential fire, explosion, or nearby live wires. You don’t want to put ice, ointments, or any kind of bandaging on the burns until the emergency medical responders arrive. However, if the person has only minor burns, running them under cool water can help, and any jewelry should be removed immediately.
What To Do Following a Work Related Electrical Injury
The aftermath of an electrical injury can be very serious. The injured person may not survive their injuries, and their family will be able to file a workers’ compensation claim for death benefits. If you were injured in such a way, and did survive your injuries, you are going to be facing a lot of challenges as you recover. These challenges can include painful and expensive treatment, a substantial amount of time away from work, and potentially a long term disability. This is where you are able to file a workers’ compensation claim to get the medical and wage benefits that you need. Although you may have received your initial treatment from an emergency room, you need to follow up with your treatment with a company-approved physician to have your medical expenses covered. Learn more by contacting a dedicated Atlanta, GA workers’ compensation claim attorney at the Bader Law Firm for a free consultation. We are happy to help you in exploring your options for compensation.