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Workplace accidents involving electricity affect most industries

Illinois workers in all industries -- from general to farming, construction and others -- face electrical hazards every day. Safety authorities say the highest number of electricity-related workplace accidents occur in the construction industry each year. Thousands of such incidents are reported annually, and although data is available to substantiate the numbers, secondary injuries, which would increase those numbers, are excluded. An example is when an electrical shock causes a worker to get hurt by falling off a ladder.

Employers in all workplaces must ensure that all employees are aware of electrical hazards and understand electrical safety. Where possible, electrical hazards must be eliminated. Known dangers include underground and overhead power lines, faulty equipment, damaged insulation, lightning and improper grounding. One of the severe risks involves cleaning or doing maintenance on equipment without first de-energizing it.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety regulations for general industries and more specific standards for construction workers. One of these standards requires an 811 call to the local utility locator to identify underground utilities and electrical lines to prevent contact during excavations. Special arrangements must also be made when overhead power lines are in the construction area. These are but some of the many regulations that must be complied with to prevent electrocution and other less severe shocks.

Victims of electricity-related workplace accidents in Illinois will likely be eligible for financial assistance through the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance system. Many choose to secure the services of an attorney who has experience in helping injured workers to obtain all applicable benefits. Coverage of medical expenses and lost wages are typically provided, and workers who suffered permanent disabilities will receive additional benefits.

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