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Preventing Electrical Burns, Shocks, and Electrocution in Construction

Safety is always an important issue in construction. This field consistently falls in lists of the Top Ten Most Dangerous Jobs. Along with delivering quality projects, meeting expectations, and fulfilling warranty obligations, construction companies must build a reputation of safety to win contracts. 

The physical risks to workers are real and result daily in painful, costly injuries resulting from contact with electricity. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) offers these guidelines to work safely.

  • Always use caution when working near electricity.
  • Assume that all overhead wires are energized at lethal voltages. Never assume that a wire is safe to touch even if it’s down or appears to be insulated.
  • Don’t touch a fallen overhead power line. Call the electric company to report it.
  • Stay at least 10’ away from overhead wires. If working at height or handling long objects, survey the area overhead before starting work.
  • If an overhead wire falls on your vehicle while you are driving, stay inside the vehicle and continue to drive away from the line. If the engine stalls, stay inside the vehicle. Warn people not to touch the vehicle or the wire, and call the local electric utility company and emergency services. 
  • Never operate electrical equipment while standing in water.
  • Don’t repair electrical cords or equipment unless you are qualified and authorized.
  • If working in damp locations, inspect electrical cords and equipment to ensure that they’re in good working condition without defects. Always use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
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