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How to protect yourself from electrocution on a job site

Electrical hazards at a construction site can expose people to shock, burns, fire, explosion, arc blasts or electrocution. The latter results when someone experiences a lethal amount of electrical energy. Like most electrical accidents, electrocution can be prevented by using safe work practices, and you can take several steps to protect yourself and others.

Prevent an accidental equipment startup

Proper lockout/tagout procedures for general industry are required by OSHA, and they are designed to protect you from the unexpected or accidental startup of electrical equipment, especially when it is to be inspected or repaired. The first step is to turn off the current at the switch box and then to padlock the switch in the OFF position. Tagging the switch or the equipment that is now out of service lets everyone know that it is being inspected or repaired.

Using care around metal parts

A potential electrocution hazard is caused when metal comes into contact with power lines. When there is a break in an electrical tool or in a machine's insulation, metal parts can be energized and are then capable of conducting electricity. Anyone touching these "hot" parts could suffer an electrical shock, a burn or electrocution. For safety's sake, create a low-resistance path from the equipment's metallic case to the ground using a wire that directs unwanted currents. This grounding conductor can greatly reduce the amount of current that could pass through your body.

Power line safety

If you are required to work under or near power lines, be sure that you stay a safe distance away. In the case of very high-voltage lines, ground any equipment that can become energized, such as a crane. If you are working on the power lines themselves, make sure that they have been deenergized and grounded. To prevent accidental contact, power lines can also be insulated. People who are not qualified to work with electricity should stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines, and anyone standing on the ground should avoid contact with mechanical equipment that is being operated near the lines.

Handling personal injury

The key to most accidents is prevention. In addition to the more visible safety concerns such as high-voltage power lines, anyone working on a construction site should be aware of the potential for danger having to do with faulty electrical outlets, old wiring and water as it acts as a conductor of electricity. While the possibility of electrocution should be top of mind for everyone, burns and other injuries caused by electrical issues are certainly possible. Should this happen to you, experienced personal injury attorneys are standing by to help.

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