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Electrical Accidents on Construction Sites [2024 Guide]

Written By:
Tor Hoerman
Tor Hoerman

Attorney Tor Hoerman, admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association since 1995 and The Missouri Bar since 2009, specializes nationally in mass tort litigations. Locally, Tor specializes in auto accidents and a wide variety of personal injury incidents occuring in Illinois and Missouri.

This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by the team of writers and attorneys at TorHoerman Law and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney. If you would like to learn more about our owner and experienced injury lawyer, Tor Hoerman, you can do so here.

TorHoerman Law does everything possible to make sure the information in this article is up to date and accurate. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us. This article should not be taken as advice from an attorney.

An Overview of Electrical Hazards in Construction & Resulting Electrical Accidents

On this page, we’ll discuss electrical accidents on construction sites, the risk of electrical accidents and electric shock, how electrical injuries occur, and much more.

Risks of Electrical Injury on Construction Sites Explained

Working with electrical equipment and components on construction sites can be extremely dangerous.

If you’ve recently suffered a severe injury due to an electrical accident on a construction site, we understand the distress and uncertainty you may be facing.

When electrical accidents occur, they can lead to serious injuries like second and third-degree burns.

In worst-case scenarios, accidents involving faulty electrical equipment or exposed wires can lead to cardiac arrest and even death.

Electrical Accidents on Construction Sites Types of Electrical Hazards & Resulting Injuries

Whether you’ve experienced electrical shock, burns, or other injuries, taking legal action against the negligent party responsible for overseeing the construction project may be necessary to secure the compensation you deserve.

The first step to taking legal action is knowledge.

At TorHoerman Law, we’re here to provide you with information on the different types of electrical hazards, electrical injuries following accidents, and what you can do to get the compensation you deserve.

We’re here for you during this trying time.

Contact TorHoerman Law for a free consultation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for a lawsuit instantly.

Table of Contents

The Different Types of Electrical Hazards on Construction Sites

Electrical hazards on construction sites pose significant risks to workers’ safety.

By understanding these hazards, construction workers, contractors, and site owners and managers alike can prevent accidents and injuries.

Here’s a breakdown of the common types of electrical hazards you may have encountered on your job site.

Contact With Live Wires and Energized Circuits

On construction sites, one prevalent hazard identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is inadvertent contact with live wires and energized circuits.

This occurs when workers come into direct contact with electrical components (like circuit breakers) during various construction tasks.

Such contact poses a significant risk of electric shock and severe injuries.

Given the nature of construction work involving close interaction with wiring systems, the likelihood of accidental contact is heightened.

Even momentary exposure to live wires can result in life-threatening consequences.

Maintaining vigilance and adhering to safety protocols are paramount to mitigate this hazard effectively.

Exposure to Underground and Overhead Power Lines

According to OSHA, exposure to overhead and underground power lines presents another critical threat to worker safety on construction sites.

Without adequate clearance or protective measures, workers face the risk of electrocution or serious injury when working near these power sources.

Overhead power lines, in particular, carry high-voltage electricity and can pose a danger even from a distance.

Underground power lines present hidden dangers, and workers may inadvertently encounter them while excavating or digging trenches.

Preventing accidents associated with power line exposure requires proper training, heightened awareness of surroundings, and strict adherence to safety regulations.

Improper Grounding

Improper grounding, or the lack of ground-fault protection, is a critical electrical hazard that poses significant risks on construction sites.

Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) play a crucial role in preventing electrocution by quickly shutting off power when they detect a ground fault.

If GFCIs are not installed or maintained correctly, or if they malfunction, workers are left vulnerable to electric shock and other injuries.

Without effective ground-fault protection, electrical currents may stray from their intended path, creating potential hazards for workers.

Ground faults can occur due to various factors, including damaged wiring, equipment malfunction, or exposure to moisture.

The absence of GFCIs also increases the likelihood of electrical accidents in wet or damp conditions commonly encountered on construction sites.

To mitigate the risk of electrical injuries resulting from improper grounding, construction sites must adhere to safety standards that mandate the installation and regular maintenance of GFCIs.

Routine inspections and testing of electrical systems can help identify and address any deficiencies in ground-fault protection, ensuring electrical safety for all workers.

Improper Use of Extension Cords and Electrical Equipment

Improper handling and usage of extension cords and electrical devices also represent a significant hazard on construction sites.

Some examples of improper equipment operation include using damaged cords, overloading an electrical circuit, or utilizing equipment not rated for outdoor use or the specific task at hand.

Damaged cords can expose workers to electrical shocks or fires, while overloading circuits can lead to equipment malfunctions or electrical fires.

Besides exposure to damaged cords, using electrical appliances not suitable for outdoor conditions increases the likelihood of electrical accidents, particularly in adverse weather.

Workers who need to operate electrical equipment must exercise caution.

By doing so, workers can minimize the risk of accidents and injuries.

Lack of Insulation

Poorly insulated wires can become construction site hazards.

With poor insulation, electrical cords can cause burns as there’s nothing preventing electrical current from touching workers.

Exposure to live wires or uninsulated electrical components can lead to severe injuries, including electric shock, burns, and electrocution.

Uninsulated wires may pose a fire hazard, especially if they come into contact with flammable materials or are subjected to excessive heat.

To address this hazard, construction sites must ensure that all electrical wires and equipment are properly insulated and protected from damage.

Regular electrical inspections and maintenance should be conducted to identify any insulation deficiencies and promptly rectify them to maintain a safe working environment for all personnel.

Electrical Injuries Caused by Construction Site Electrical Hazards

Electrical accidents on construction sites can lead to a range of severe injuries with immediate and long-term medical implications.

By knowing about these injuries, you’ll not only have more information about their prevention and treatment but you’ll also have more proof of your construction accident and a better insight into the severity of your electrical injuries.

Both can go a long way in holding your employer or construction site manager accountable.

Your injuries can also help your attorney negotiate for the justice you deserve.

Electric Shocks

An electric shock occurs when the body comes into contact with an electric current.

This can disrupt normal electrical signals in the body, leading to muscle contractions, burns, and potentially fatal heart rhythm disturbances.

Even a mild electric shock can cause significant harm.

A severe electric shock can result in severe burns, internal organ damage, and cardiac arrest.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns can result from direct contact with an electric current or from arc flash incidents.

These burns can range from superficial to deep tissue damage and may require extensive medical treatment, including skin grafts and rehabilitation.

Thermal burns may occur if the electrical current ignites flammable materials or clothing.

Falls Resulting From Shocks

Electrical shocks can cause involuntary muscle reactions or loss of consciousness.

These can lead to falls from elevated surfaces or equipment.

These falls can result in additional injuries, such as fractures, head trauma, or spinal cord injuries, exacerbating the severity of the initial electrical injury.


Electrocution refers to death caused by electric shock.

High-voltage electrical energy can disrupt the normal functioning of vital organs, leading to cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, and ultimately death.

Even brief exposure to high-voltage electricity can be fatal, emphasizing the importance of proper safety measures to prevent electrocution incidents.

Electrocution is one of the major causes of death in construction sites.

According to OSHA, death caused by electrical accidents takes about 143 lives on construction sites per year.

Other Immediate and Long-Term Medical Complications

Besides the immediate physical injuries, electrical accidents can have long-term medical implications.

Cardiac arrest, muscle damage, neurological effects, and psychological trauma are common consequences of electrical injuries.

Medical complications from electrical injuries can include:

  • Cardiac Arrest: High voltage electrical current can disrupt the heart’s normal rhythm, leading to cardiac arrest.
    • During cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating effectively.
    • This condition requires immediate medical intervention, including CPR and defibrillation, to restore normal heart function.
  • Muscle Damage: Electric shocks can cause muscle contractions and tissue damage, leading to acute muscle injury.
    • Severe shocks may result in rhabdomyolysis. This is a condition where damaged muscle tissue releases toxic substances into the bloodstream, potentially leading to kidney damage or failure.
  • Neurological Effects: Electrical injuries can impact the nervous system, leading to neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of sensation in affected areas.
    • In severe cases, electrical accidents may cause nerve damage, paralysis, or other neurological disorders.
  • Psychological and Emotional Trauma: Experiencing an electrical accident can be traumatic and may lead to psychological distress, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other mental health conditions.

Prompt medical evaluation and ongoing care are essential to address both the immediate and long-term effects of electrical accidents on construction sites.

How To Prevent Electrical Accidents and Injuries

To effectively prevent electrical accidents, site managers and construction workers need to work together to adhere to safety guidelines and best practices on the job site.

The implementation and enforcement of safety policies enable site managers to promote safety.

Most importantly, doing these helps site managers and developers avoid liability.

There are ways that site managers, site owners, employers, and developers can prevent electrical accidents on their construction sites.

Actions to prevent electrical accidents and injuries include:

  • Regular training
  • Adherence to OSHA’s standards
  • Proper electrical maintenance
  • Use of personal protective equipment
  • Implementation of lockout/tagout procedures
  • Installing safety barriers

Regular Training

Under OSHA’s guidelines, employers, job site managers, and parties overseeing construction projects must provide training.

During training, workers must receive education on electrical safety procedures, how to identify electrical hazards, safely handle equipment, and respond appropriately in case of an emergency.

Regular refresher courses are equally critical to employee safety.

These courses contain updates, ensuring that workers have up-to-date knowledge on how to remain vigilant on-site.

Adherence to OSHA’s Standards

Compliance with OSHA standards is paramount for maintaining a safe work environment.

Employers should familiarize themselves with OSHA regulations related to electrical safety and ensure full compliance with requirements such as proper wiring, electrical installation and maintenance, and safety protocols.

Regular inspections and audits can also help identify any violations.

The findings from audits can help site owners and managers to address safety issues promptly.

Proper Electrical Equipment Maintenance

Regular inspection, maintenance, and testing of electrical equipment are essential for identifying potential hazards and preventing malfunctions.

Equipment should be inspected for signs of wear, damage, or deterioration, and any issues should be addressed promptly by qualified personnel.

Only certified and properly rated electrical equipment should be used on construction sites to minimize the risk of accidents.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment

Besides training, employers and site managers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE).

They must also ensure that PPE is readily available, properly fitted, and in good condition to provide effective protection.

PPE such as insulated gloves, safety glasses, and hard hats, is essential for safeguarding workers against electrical hazards.

PPE should be worn consistently by all workers when working in proximity to electrical systems or equipment.

Implementation of Lockout/Tagout Procedures

Lockout/Tagout procedures involve isolating energy sources, de-energizing equipment, and securing it with locks and tags to prevent accidental activation during maintenance activities.

Implementing these measures is a must for the safety of workers performing electrical maintenance or repairs on faulty wiring or components.

Installing Safety Barriers

Installing safety barriers and signage around electrical hazards can help prevent accidental contact and minimize the risk of injuries on construction sites.

Safety barriers, such as fencing or barricades, create physical barriers that restrict access to hazardous areas and alert workers to potential dangers.

Safety barriers should be strategically placed to prevent unauthorized entry into hazardous zones and provide clear guidance on safe working practices.

Employers should regularly inspect barriers for damage or deterioration and promptly repair or replace them as needed to maintain their effectiveness.

By implementing safety barriers and signage, construction sites can enhance safety awareness, reduce the likelihood of accidents, and protect workers from electrical hazards.

What You Should Do If You've Sustained Electrical Injuries

If you’ve suffered an electrical accident on a construction site, you must seek compensation from your employers.

Seeking compensation for your injuries and losses not only holds negligent parties accountable but by filing a work injury lawsuit, you may recover a settlement that pays you for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from your work-related injuries

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

If you sustained construction injuries on the job, your first action will likely be a workers’ compensation claim.

In many cases, injured workers on construction sites are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs resulting from their injuries.

Workers’ compensation provides a no-fault insurance system, meaning you can typically receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

To improve your chances of a successful claim, report your injury to your employer promptly and follow the procedures outlined by your state’s workers’ compensation system.

Doing this streamlines the claims process and ensures you receive the benefits you deserve.

When Your Claim Can Become a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Your injuries may result from the negligence of your employer or a third party.

You may have sustained electrical burns owing to faulty wiring that your employers failed to check.

In such a scenario, you may be able to file a personal injury claim for your electrical accident.

To file your claim as a personal injury claim, you must prove the liable party’s negligence.

Negligence occurs when someone fails to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm to others.

In construction site accidents, negligence may involve violations of safety regulations, improper maintenance of equipment, or failure to provide adequate training or supervision.

Speaking With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Going through the civil claims process is not something you should attempt alone.

From claims proceedings to negotiating with insurance companies, several aspects of the claims process can be too complex and challenging to navigate alone.

This is where your personal injury attorney can help.

By consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can file your claim with confidence, knowing that someone is advocating for you and protecting your rights.

An attorney can:

  • Assess the circumstances of your accident
  • Gather evidence to strengthen your case
  • Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf
  • Maximize your compensation
  • Advocate on your behalf in court (if settlement negotiations break down)

TorHoerman Law: Experienced Construction Accident Attorneys

At TorHoerman Law, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that electrical accidents can take on you and your family.

Our team is here to provide compassionate support and effective legal representation to help you obtain the justice you deserve for your injuries and losses.

If you’ve been injured due to a construction site electrical accident, know that you may be eligible for a claim.

Contact us at TorHoerman Law for a free consultation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for a lawsuit instantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the most common types of electrical hazards on construction sites?

    Electrical injuries on construction sites include electrical burns, electric shocks ranging from mild to severe, and secondary injuries from falls or reactions to shocks.

    These can result from direct contact with live components, faulty electrical equipment, or inadequate use of electrical safety devices.

  • How do electrical injuries occur during construction work?

    Workers can prevent electrical accidents by following strict electrical safety procedures, using protective equipment, ensuring all electrical systems and tools are properly grounded, and undergoing regular electrical safety training.

    Inspecting tools and equipment for damage, using circuit breakers, and avoiding the use of electrical devices near wet locations are also crucial.

  • How can workers prevent electrical accidents on the job site?

    If someone experiences an electric shock on a construction site, immediately disconnect the power source if possible, and call emergency services.

    Do not touch the victim if they are still in contact with the electrical source.

    Begin CPR if the victim is unresponsive, and continue until medical help arrives.

  • What are the typical injuries resulting from electrical accidents in construction?

    Safety measures for handling electrical hazards on construction sites include conducting site surveys to identify potential electrical dangers, implementing lockout/tagout procedures, using insulated tools and wearing personal protective equipment.

    Regularly inspecting electrical installations and ensuring all workers are aware of the locations of overhead power lines and circuit breakers is also vital.

  • How can a lawyer help if I suffer an electrical injury on a construction site?

    Proper grounding prevents electrical accidents by providing a safe path for electrical current to follow in the event of a fault in the electrical system.

    This reduces the risk of shock or fire by allowing the current to flow safely to the ground, which triggers the circuit breaker to cut off the power and protect those in contact with the electrical system.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

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