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Construction accident highlights electrocution dangers

To our north, in the city of Mission Viejo, a construction worker was killed and another was injured after they both touched some electrical wires last month while working at the Mission Viejo High School. But while the accident is a terrible tragedy that might have been avoided, it is also standing as an example of what can happen to a person if the proper safety precautions are not taken around electricity.

You may not realize it but any job that requires electricity carries the risk of electrocution. In some job fields though, this risk is higher than in others. Take for example the construction industry where the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists electrocution as the third leading cause of death among construction workers.

Though some electrocution cases can result in injury, this isn’t always the case every time. As was reported in the case above, both men touched the same wire. But while one was killed by the shock, the other survived having only suffered injuries in the process. That’s because fatality due to electrocution relies on three primary factors:

  • Path of the current through the body
  • Amount of current
  • Exposure time to the current

While the use of proper protective safety equipment can greatly reduce the risk of a fatal accident, other factors such as moisture in the air, voltage, and when the shock occurs during the heart cycle may negate the effectiveness of the equipment.

It’s unknown if protective equipment was used in the Mission Viejo accident.

Although the injured victim and the deceased victim’s family may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, they may want to wait until the OSHA investigation is complete. That’s because the completed investigation may establish liability and whether negligence was a factor. In some cases, negligence can lead some to forgo workers’ compensation and instead file a civil claim that seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

It’s unknown if this will be the case in this situation though.

Sources: The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “How Electrical Current Affects the Human Body,” Accessed Aug. 4, 2014

KTLA News, “Construction Worker Electrocuted, Second Injured While Working at Mission Viejo High,” Kennedy Ryan, July 18, 2014