In November, a father-and-son team were electrocuted after finishing painting a church in Seattle. The father died while the son sustained life-threatening injuries. The incident occurred while the men stood on the ground, moving an aluminum ladder when wind gusts blew the top of the ladder into an electrical cable, electrocuting them.
The incident marks another example of electrocution in the construction industry. Electrocution is among the construction industry’s “Focus Four” hazards as described by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). It is among a quartet that also includes falls, struck-by incidents and caught-in and between, accounting for nearly 60% of annual construction fatalities.
Four times more likely to face electrocution
Sadly, construction-related electrocutions are not uncommon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the construction industry accounted for 61% of all workplace electrocutions in 2015. (Of the 134 workplace electrocution deaths that year, 82 occurred in construction.)
In more alarming news, construction workers are four times more likely to face electrocution than workers in all other industries combined.
Electricians accounted for the most deaths as 105 died by electrocution from 2011 to 2015, according to the CDC. The construction position, though, that proved to be the highest risk was power-line installer. While 32 power-line installers died during the same period, they died at a rate of 29.7 per 100,000 full-time workers, more than seven times that of electricians, which had the second-highest death rate at four deaths per 100,000 full-time workers.
Other construction positions that recorded a significant number of deaths from electrocution include:
- Laborers with 53 deaths
- Foremen with 31 deaths
- Roofers 24 deaths
- HVAC mechanics 21 deaths
Safety is an important aspect of the construction industry. However, sometimes, employers overlook safety matters along with the proper training of their crews. Accident prevention is key. When working with power lines, construction workers must understand the dangers.