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Tips for preventing electrocutions at a construction site

Nobody goes to work at a construction site thinking they're going to get electrocuted, and partially, this is why electrocutions happen. The idea of touching a live wire or stepping in an electrified puddle just isn't on our minds when we're carrying out our job responsibilities.

This is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created a simple guide to zero in on the four biggest risks for North Carolina construction workers. One of the risks featured in this guide is electrocutions, which accounted for 82 construction worker deaths in 2016. Here's what OSHA says you can do to avoid getting electrocuted on the job:

Keep a distance from contact hazards

Electrocutions can happen when the body makes contact with an electrified source, such as a power line, exposed wires and cables leading to electrified tools. OSHA recommends that the best way to prevent an electrocution by contact is simply to avoid power lines, both underground and overhead. When using ladders and lifts, workers should also stay aware of where the power lines are, and if they must work close to them, they should use nonconductive tools.

Ground-fault protection is essential

Workers should install ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) on any non-permanent wiring set up at a construction site. The GFCI continually monitors electrical currents and flows to cut off the electricity if there's a surge caused by someone becoming electrocuted. These devices save lives.

Use lockout/tagout procedures

When it's time to lock and/or tag electrical circuits and equipment that uses electricity, a trained individual should carry out a lockout/tagout procedure to de-energize the equipment and circuits beforehand. When it's time to re-energize the circuits and equipment, a qualified person should also carry out the removal of locks and tags.

Following the above advice will certainly help to keep you safe from the majority of electrocution hazards on the job. If you're concerned about your safety when it comes to electricity, make sure to speak with your supervisor about the dangers immediately. If you get seriously hurt by electrocution on the job, you might want to explore whether you can pursue a workers' compensation claim to pay for your medical care.

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