Another tragic death due to a construction accident occurred in New Rochelle, New York on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 12, 2020. 26-year-old Alejandro Manuel Caisaguano Pellisa was performing a job on the outside of a building on Union Avenue. In order to do the job, he had to be lifted in a cherry picker. Sadly, the cherry picker accidentally struck some high voltage wires, and he was electrocuted.
He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is investigating.
It’s no secret that electricity can be a hazard to anyone’s safety, but it proves to be especially dangerous to construction workers. According to an article published by the Center for Construction Research and Training, electrocutions are the fourth leading cause of death among construction workers in the United States. Not only that, but construction workers sustain the second-largest amount of electrocutions per year, surpassed only by electrical workers. And within the construction industry, for non-electrical workers, the main cause of electrocution was contact with overhead power lines; in fact, 56 percent of construction workers died from contact with overhead power lines, according to data sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It is especially common for cranes (like the one attached to the cherry picker in this accident) to come into contact with high-strung power lines. According to OSHA’s page on electrical hazard recognition, overhead power lines are especially dangerous because they have extremely high voltage. Even low voltages-less than 600-can cause burns, shocks, and other injuries; power lines, especially those that are un-insulated, carry tens of thousands of volts, and can lead to fatal electrocution.
The only way to prevent accidents like this from happening is to take the proper safety precautions before it is too late. Some precautions you can take to protect yourself from electrical hazards on the job include:
- Conduct a hazard assessment before work begins
- Assume all power lines are energized; ask the electric company to de-energize and ground them before work begins
- Keep at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines
- Guard or insulate the power lines
- Use non-conductive wood or fiberglass ladders to reach an overhead work site
- Ensure you are up to date on proper safety procedures
- Make sure you wear protective equipment, such as rubber insulating gloves
Although it is unclear exactly what went wrong during Wednesday’s accident, what is clear is that it was a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts are with the loved ones of Mr. Pellisa during this difficult time.
If you or someone you know has been electrocuted or has suffered due to an electrical accident on a construction site, the attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy can help. We have extensive experience fighting for clients who have been injured in construction accidents. Relevant case results we have obtained include:
- $5,500,000 settlement for a 40-year-old electrician who fell 14-16 feet from a ladder after he received an electric shock during the course of his work
- $2,600,000 settlement for a 37-year-old electrician who was shocked twice by powerlines that should have been de-energized