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What You Need to Know About Workplace Electrical Injuries in Winston-Salem

During the years 1992-2002, there were 46,598 US workplace injuries (last available figure) caused by electrical accidents. These types of injuries can be very severe, and depending on the type of injury, you may need to file a workers’ comp claim. Finding the right workers’ compensation attorney in Winston-Salem, NC, is easy. Lewis & Keller has a team full of skilled lawyers who specialize in this area. 

Common Causes of Workplace Electrical Injuries

The following information on the causes of electrical injuries is provided by The Fire Protection Research Foundation:

  • Overhead power lines: 46%
  • Wiring transformers and other electrical components: 29%
  • Current from appliances, light fixtures, and machine tools: 18%
  • Other: 7%

If you work in a field where you interact with these items frequently, always remember to wear the necessary protective gear and use extreme caution. Even if you’ve been working with electrical hazards for a long time, you should maintain caution and awareness of how dangerous they can be. 

Is Your Workplace Safe?

It’s possible for all workers to be exposed to unsafe electrical conditions. For example, equipment may have worn or damaged electrical cords or come into contact with a damp surface. As the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states, “Almost all American workers are exposed to electrical energy at some time during their work day, and the same electrical hazards can affect workers in different industries.” The following are the various categories of electrical injuries.

Heart Damage

The heart is a pump which is operated by its own electrical system. This natural system can be disturbed by an external electrical shock. The heart may beat irregularly, too fast, or too slow. In the most severe situations, a heart attack may occur. In addition, tissue in the muscular inner layer of the heart can be destroyed.

Contact Injuries (Internal)

A current of electricity shooting through the human body can cause extreme internal damage. The current will burn nerves and muscles along bones, and leave behind charred flesh at its entry and exit points.

In addition, internal muscular damage caused by electrical burns can prompt the discharge of a pigment called myoglobin. Too much of this substance in the bloodstream can lead to acute kidney failure.

Arc Flash Burns (External)

Severe external electrical burn injuries can result from arc flashes. An arc flash happens when an electrical current travels through the air. This occurs when isolation between electrical conductors or insulation is no longer sufficient to handle the applied voltage. Arc flashes can be extremely violent, and can be the cause of chemical explosions.

Actions By The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

These safety precautions are required by OSHA to help keep workers safe when dealing with potentially dangerous electrical equipment:

Lockout and Tagout (LOTO)

Locks and tags are required to be attached to devices to prevent them from being switched from their safe/off positions. LOTO procedures must be executed when a worker:

  • Circumvents or removes a guard or other safety device
  • Is required to position a body part where it could be injured by running machinery
  • Works on or near to exposed electrical conductors
  • May be harmed in an accidental startup

It is important to double-check that these procedures have been completed, whether you are doing them yourself or you are overseeing another.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI)

GFCI monitors electrical pressure and tracks leaks. Leakage over the safety level limit causes the GFCI to automatically trip and halt the current. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) advises the use of a flash protection boundary (FPB) and the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) within this area.

Contact An Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Winston-Salem Today

If you have been injured in a workplace electrical accident in North Carolina, you could be eligible for workman’s comp benefits. Contact a skilled workers’ compensation attorney in Winston-Salem to review your case and determine how to go about filing a claim.