An employee of a suburban Philadelphia reform school was injured recently in a lightning strike while working on the school’s baseball field. According to news reports, the worker was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
Electrical accidents are among the most frequent causes of fatal workplace injuries in the United States. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration includes electrocution among the “Fatal Four” most common causes of workplace accidents in private industry.
OSHA may fine an employer that does not take proper measures to protect an employee from workplace electrocution hazards including lightning strikes. Lightning strikes may be a recognized work hazard for certain types of workers whose jobs involve working outdoors.
In 2011, 69 workers across the United States were fatally injured as a result of electrocution, representing 9 percent of all fatal workplace injuries that year. Figures compiled by the Electrical Safety Foundation International indicate that 1,738 workers died as a result of contact with electricity from 2003 to 2010. Moreover, within the construction trades, electricians average twice the number of worker deaths each year as those in the next closest category, construction laborers.
According to OSHA, most electrical injuries occur because of:
- Unsafe equipment or installation
- Unsafe environment
- Unsafe work practices
OSHA advises workers that they can minimize the risk of electrical injury by:
- De-energizing electric equipment before inspection or repair
- Keeping electric tools properly maintained
- Exercising caution when working near energized lines
- Using appropriate protective equipment
An electrical injury can cause serious or life-threatening injuries, including:
- Cardiac arrest due to the electrical effect on the heart
- Muscle, nerve, and tissue destruction from a current passing through the body
- Thermal burns from contact with the electrical source
Often a victim cannot determine the seriousness of an electrical injury without an extensive medical examination. An electrical injury can wreak havoc inside the body with very little outward indication of the damage.
If you have suffered an electrical injury in a Pennsylvania workplace, you may be entitled to benefits through the Worker’s Compensation. Although the workers’ compensation system is intended to protect injured workers and their families, it can be difficult to navigate. If you have questions or concerns about your legal rights to compensation, contact the workplace injury attorneys at Shor & Levin, the Bulldog Lawyers, by calling 855-860-4539 or using our Worker’s Compensation.