Better Safe Than Sorry in the Workplace

As Illinois injury attorneys, we often handle workplace accidents. On February 2nd, 2009, a maintenance electrician working for Miller-Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado was found dead. His body was discovered near an energized electric panel. Regulators are considering fining Miller-Coors $128,500 for failing to meet required safety standards for their employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found 10 safety violations of safety rules concerning electrical hazards.

On April 10th there was another incident where two employees were burned by electrical units at a Miller-Coors brewery. Of the 10 safety violations there was one alleged willful violation where MillerCoors failed to ensure employees wore proper protective equipment when working near energized electrical parts. OSHA found all ten violations involve work practices and protective equipment.

The data below was found on Electrical Safety Foundation International‘s website

  • In the workplace, data from the National Safety Council indicate that electrical hazards cause nearly one workplace fatality every day.
  • Annually, electrical hazards are listed as the cause of approximately 4,000 injuries.
  • Electrical incidents, while only a small portion of those that occur on-the-job, are far more likely to be fatal.

According to the OSHA, “electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard. In 1999, for example, 278 workers died from electrocutions at work, accounting for almost 5 percent of all on-the-job fatalities that year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What makes these statistics more tragic is that most of these fatalities could have been easily avoided.” When companies do not follow the safety procedures set up by OSHA, accidents are likely to occur.

This table taken from the OSHA shows the general relationship between the amount of current received and the reaction when current flows from the hand to the foot for just 1 second.

Below 1 milliampere: Generally not perceptible

  • 1 milliampere: Faint tingle
  • 5 milliamperes: Slight shock felt; not painful but disturbing. Average individual can let go. Strong involuntary reactions can lead to other injuries.
  • 6-25 milliamperes (women): Painful shock, loss of muscular control*
  • 9-30 milliamperes (men): The freezing current or ” let-go” range.* Individual cannot let go, but can be thrown away from the circuit if extensor muscles are stimulated.
  • 50-150 milliamperes : Extreme pain, respiratory arrest, severe muscular contractions. Death is possible. 1,000-4,300 milliamperes : Rhythmic pumping action of the heart ceases. Muscular contraction and nerve damage occur; death likely.
  • 10,000 milliamperes : Cardiac arrest, severe burns; death probable

If you or a loved one are the victim of an electrical accident at work, you may be entitled to compensation. Many of these accidents involve both workers compensation claims as well as additional third party claims. WWF&G handles workers compensation claims, as well as the third party claims that derive from these claims – some of these include a laborer who lost 4 fingers in a chop saw incident, an insulator who fell 20 feet from a ladder, and a farmhand who sustained significant burns at the hands of a propane fueled, power washer. Please contact us at 618-462-1077 for a free consultation.