A Massachusetts worker died in a fatal electrocution accident in Salem last month when the aerial lift he was using came into contact with electrical wires. He had been working on a painting job at a fire station at the time, and it remains unclear whether there was any violation of safety standards. An investigation is in progress to answer that question.
The worker in Salem was unfortunately one of many victims of what the US Department of Labor has dubbed the “Fatal Four”—the dangers that lead to the most workplace deaths in construction and other building work. Construction work itself accounts for about one-fifth of all fatal workplace accidents each year, and within that number, only four types of incident—falls, struck by object, electrocution, and caught in/between—account for nearly two-thirds of fatal injuries.
In 2015, the most recent year with full data available, 4,379 people died in fatal accidents in private industry. Construction saw 937 of them. Electrocution was the cause in eighty-one of those cases.
It might seem like those who work directly with electricity—electricians and similar tradesmen—might be most at risk of on-the-job electrocution, but workers like the painter in Salem are more likely to be a victim of this kind of accident. A review of incidents reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics by a construction industry research group showed that as a single group, electricians suffer the most, but other workers combine for more than double the amount of fatal accidents.
That same review also found that when electrical workers have an accident, it’s more likely to involve wiring and electrical equipment, but for non-electrical workers, overhead power lines are the problem. They have more than double the risk of harm from overhead lines; in fact, that was the leading cause of electrocution for non-electricians.
Many people think of electrocution as an all-or-nothing event: If you’re electrocuted, it’s fatal. But just as with other types of accidents, contact with electricity can also cause serious injury. A report from the Electrical Safety Foundation International found nearly twelve serious injuries from electrocution for every death. Not surprisingly, many electrical injuries are from burns, but they can also include shock, heart failure, damage to other internal organs, and even secondary injuries, such as from a fall after a shock.
Workplace injuries come in all forms, and while the fatal four account for many, they are not the only causes of serious injury and death on the job. Regardless of the specific cause, when you or a loved one has been harmed at work, or if someone close to you has been killed while doing their job, it’s important that you have experienced legal representation on your side as you pursue the compensation that you need after the accident.
At Joel H. Schwartz, PC, our attorneys understand construction site and other workplace accident law and will work to help you get the justice you deserve. Call us today at 1-800-660-2270 or contact us online through the form below to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.