Workplace Electrical Burns

Workers are at risk for electrical burn injuries at nearly every type of workplace. Approximately five to ten percent of traumatic work deaths are caused by electrical accidents every year in the United States. Electrical burn injury risks increase dramatically when employers are negligent regarding electrical safety.

Workplace Electrical Injuries

Electrical accidents put workers at risk of severe burn injuries and other complications. Electrical burn injuries differ from other types of burn injuries because the severity of the injuries is not always apparent. Electrical accidents can cause tissue degeneration and severe burn injuries to nerves and muscles as well as skin. Electrical accidents can also cause heart injuries such as cardiac arrest as the natural electrical current that regulates the cells becomes interrupted. Additionally, breathing and muscle contraction may be affected by electrical contact.

Severity of Burn Injuries

The severity of burn injuries depends on the type of current-alternating or direct current, the amount of current, and the time in contact with the electricity. When electricity enters the body, there is generally an entrance point and an exit point. These points are where burn injuries are visible on the body. Internal injuries may be difficult to diagnose, but often require immediate attention.

Electrical Accident Causes

Workplace electrical burns can be caused by many different actions, including:

  • Touching equipment with faulty wires
  • Touching electrical sockets or switches with damp hands
  • Grasping live wires
  • Cutting into live wires
  • Coming in contact with electrically charged water
  • Using improperly maintained equipment
  • Improper use of electrical equipment

Electrical Burn Prevention

Most workplace electrical burns can be prevented by following electrical safety standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly known as OSHA, provides detailed guidelines for preventing electrical burns in many different types of workplaces. Employers that fail to comply with OSHA standards may be subject to fines and lawsuits.

Electrical Burn Treatment

When an employee suffers an electrical injury, it is important that coworkers or managers act fast. The employee should not be touched while contact with the electrical source is maintained. If possible, the current should be stopped at the power source. If this is not possible, it is necessary to remove the employee from contact using a dry object that is nonconductive to electricity.

Medical attention should be sought as soon as possible. Only professionals should attempt to resuscitate an unconscious electrical burn victim. If the burn victim is not breathing, CPR should be administered only by trained professionals. Burns should be cooled with coverings that will not stick, and should be loosely covered to prevent infection.

Workplace Negligence and Electrical Burns

If an electrical burn is the result of workplace negligence, victims are encouraged to seek compensation. Workplaces owe a duty of care to employees to make sure that workplace environments are free from electrical hazards. Electrical burn victims may be entitled to compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.