Electric shocks in the construction and oil field sector are all too common. They’re often deadly. Electric shock in its simplest term is human contact with electricity. The more electrical voltage there is, the more the worker is likely to die or suffer severe life-changing injuries. Most households have voltage that ranges between 110-220 volts. Construction sites and oil field sites can work with equipment where the voltage exceeds 500 volts. Exposure to 500 volts or more is often catastrophic.
Victims who are fortunate enough not to be killed instantly are still at great risk for heart attacks and for severe electrical burns. They may also suffer brain damage, respiratory failure, or other injuries. Workers can also fall as their body recoils from the electric shock. Falls can cause broken bones, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord damage.
Electric shocks in both the construction and oil field industries can occur when the worker comes into direct contact with energized power lines, electronic equipment, crashes between vehicles and power lines. Water is not a defense to electrical contact exposure. Offshore oil rigs often have electrical components. A malfunction of the oil rig can cause electric shock.
When a worker dies due to electric shock his/her family may have several types of claims:
- If the worker was an employee of the construction contractor or the oil field operator, then the family has the right to file for workers’ compensation death benefits.
- If the worker was not a covered employee, the family can file a wrongful death claim for negligence against the construction site owner or the oil field owner.
- If a product was defective, then, even if the worker was an employee, the family can file a product liability claim against the manufacturers and sellers of the defective parts.
If the worker survives the electric contact, he/she can file either a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury claim, or a products liability claim – depending on the worker’s job status and how the accident happened.
Treatment for electric shock
As a general rule, the first step should be to seek immediate medical help. The company supervisor should be notified. The worker should be given emergency medical treatment either at the accident site or a local emergency room.
Anyone providing assistance must understand that the area where the accident happened may not be secure. Future exposures to electrical wires, power lines, equipment, and other electrical dangers may be possible. It may be dangerous to touch anything or anyone including the victim. It’s crucial that the electrical power be turned off. The job of securing the area and helping the patient should be left to electrical professionals, local power companies, and emergency medical professionals.
Once it is clear that the victim can be held without further electrical exposure, there are several steps to take – depending on the type and extent of the injuries:
- A trained professional or volunteer may need to perform CPR.
- Any wounds may need to be elevated, and pressure may need to be applied to staunch any bleeding.
- You may want to cover the victim with a blanket (unless he or she has open wounds).
At Cunningham & Mears, our attorneys understand how devastating electric shock injuries are. We work with victims and families when a construction or oil field accident causes severe harm or death. Our Oklahoma City lawyers guide our clients through each phase of the litigation. To hold responsible parties accountable, please call us at 405.212.9234 or complete our contact form.