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Most contract workers' electrocution deaths are in construction

The National Fire Protection Association has found that out of the 8 percent of contract workers who die from electrocution, 68 percent worked in construction and extraction. Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics spanning the years 2012 to 2016. Contract workers in Pennsylvania, whether independent contractors or affiliated with a particular firm, should take notice of this trend.

Almost 30 percent of construction contractor electrocution deaths took place on construction sites. Construction trade workers made up 57 percent of fatalities. Next were electricians (31 percent), construction laborers (11 percent) and roofers and supervisors (both 5 percent). A total of 42 percent of deaths were caused by direct exposure to electricity over 220 volts. Indirect exposure to the same voltage accounted for 37 percent of fatalities.

OSHA has several tips for electrical safety. Before starting a job, construction workers must identify all underground power lines and de-energize them. Overhead power lines should also be de-energized. Workers should keep themselves, as well as their vehicles, tools and equipment, at least 10 feet away from power lines at all times.

More and more contract workers are being used in the construction industry, but the training they receive may not be as thorough as with the company's own employees. Overwork and a fast pace of work may also be behind the number of electrocution deaths.

Those who are injured on the job may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits, which can cover medical expenses; a portion of lost wages; and, if applicable, any short- or long-term disability leave. To file a claim, victims do not have to prove that anyone was negligent, but their claim may be turned down if their employer believes they contributed to their own injuries. This is why legal representation is so important. A lawyer could assist with an appeal if needed.

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