Manhattan worker critically injured by electric shock

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

A construction worker suffered severe injuries earlier this month after an electric shock incident on the job, as reported by New York Daily News.

The incident took place on Tenth Ave. and W. 48th St., in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. The victim, a construction worker in his 20s, used a sledgehammer to drive metal poles into the road. When the hammer struck an electric wire, the worker experienced electric shocks and sustained severe injuries as a result. This horrific incident occurred at 2:30PM on Thursday, April 6th.

The victim was reported to be in critical condition at Mount Sinai West medical center. We wish him a full recovery after this tragic event.

Unfortunately, this incident highlights a trend in construction-related workplace accidents over the years.

Electrocution is considered one of the construction industry’s “Fatal Four.” In 2015, 81 workers in the private construction industry were killed by electrocution in the United States, making it the third most common reason for construction fatalities in the United States, after falls and struck by object cases.

The following chart from OSHA illustrates the body’s reaction to different levels of electrical exposure:

Body's reaction to different levels of electrical current exposure - OSHA

Source: OSHA
*Note: 1 ampere = 1,000 milliamperes

The standard voltage in the United States is 120 volts. According to OSHA, under average work conditions, the current electric flow would be 120 milliamperes (assuming “the person is perspiring and has a resistance of only 1000-ohms from hand-to-hand”). At 120 milliamperes (0.12 amperes), the person would experience extreme pain, muscle contractions, and respiratory arrest. With this exposure, death is possible.

The actual voltage of the underground wire that severely injured the construction worker in Hell’s Kitchen earlier this month is unknown. The average voltage alone would seriously hurt him. And considering that underground wires can hold 200 amperes (200,000 milliamperes) or more, electric shocks can be especially excruciating. Strict guidelines need to be in place to prevent incidents like this from happening.

Electrocution accounts for 8.6% of workplace-related deaths in the US private construction industry in 2015, meaning that a sizable number of workers died horrific and extremely painful deaths – many of which we believe could have been prevented with better planning.

In light of the recent event and statistics, the obvious but crucial takeaway is this: Electrical wiring poses serious dangers to construction workers if proper precautions are not taken. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment that is aligned with OSHA safety standards.

If you received an electrical injury on the job, you may be entitled to compensation for the loss you’ve incurred – lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, etc. The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy understand the pain and devastation that follow a serious electric shock.

If you have questions about a potential case, feel free to call us at 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Our case results include a $2.6 million settlement for an electrician for a work-related electrical injury. We also achieved 3 of the Top 5 Settlements in Construction in all of New York State in 2016.

Contact us today at 212-736-5300.


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