Electric Accidents

Shocking statistics continue to cause concern

Electricity and humans don’t mix. That much has been obvious since Faraday began his experiments with electricity in the 1800s. But in a modern working environment, it is inevitable that electricity and humans are going to be in close proximity to each other every day, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been raising concerns about the dangers of overhead power cables in the work environment. The report comes after a construction company was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £5,000 after a worker received an electric shock from an overhead power cable and subsequently fell from a roof he was working on.

The man was working on the roof of a poultry shed and was carrying metal roofing material, which either contacted with an 11kV power line overhead or came into close proximity to it. The electric shock resulted in burns to the man’s body and he collapsed and rolled off the roof, falling around 2.5 metres to the ground.

The incident was described as being ‘entirely avoidable’ by the HSE and the man was also regarded as being lucky to have survived his injuries. Although the investigation highlighted the lack of any protection around the edge of the roof, resulting in the fall, it is the fact that yet another person has been injured by electricity at work. Every year, around 1,000 electrical accidents at work are reported to the HSE and of those about 25 people die as a result of their injuries.

Most people realise that electricity is something that should only be dealt with by trained professionals, but often when a job is being ‘rushed’ through, corners tend to be cut. Unfortunately, electricity is particularly unforgiving, and encounters with high voltage power cables are almost guaranteed to result in serious injury or even death. Whilst most modern homes are well equipped with safety devices such as circuit breakers and high voltage cables are out of the reach of most people, in working environments the risks become much greater as factories and workplaces often have what is known as ‘Three-phase’ electrical supplies. Three-phase carries a much higher voltage than normal household supplies and this is why even being in close proximity to a supply can be a risk.

In this instance, the courts and the HSE held the company responsible for neglecting basic safety measures that could have quite easily resulted in the man’s death. It emphasises the point that, where electricity is concerned, you cannot ‘cut corners’ or play a little fast and loose with fundamental safety concerns. Those that do are failing in the worst possible way in their duty of care towards their employees and are leaving themselves wide open to a substantial compensation claim for any injuries that might result.

In this instance, the man suffered a double blow – the initial electric shock and then a fall from height. While falls from height still remain the most common cause for workplace injuries, electric shocks have a much higher possibility of serious and even fatal consequences. We have always had an uneasy relationship with electricity – our society depends upon it utterly for almost every aspect of our daily lives, yet one brief encounter with its power can kill. With such a lethal component in the workplace, it is essential that employers treat any contact with electrical equipment, overhead power cables or even a simple plug socket with the respect and care it deserves. Corners should never be ‘cut’ with electricity and those that do are putting the lives of their employees at unacceptable risk.

For workplace electric accident compensation claims, call the Work Accident Solicitor

Your employer has a legal duty to protect your health and safety in the workplace and if they fail to do so, leading you to become injured in an electric accident, our Work Accident Solicitors could help you claim compensation.

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