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Construction sites and burns: How to protect yourself

If you work on a construction site, you know that there are plenty of ways that you can get injured, and one of these ways is through an electrical burn. A number of causes can result in burns: an explosion, a live power line, faulty equipment or a sudden surge in the circuit.

According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, during an 11-year period, 143 people in the construction industry died from electrocution, making this the fourth most common cause of construction fatalities. However, you can avoid becoming a part of this statistic by taking some preventive measures.

1. Wear protective clothing and gear

It is important to keep your skin covered when working around any type of electrical source. One way to do this is to wear flame-resistant clothing. There are several companies that make clothing specifically for a construction environment, using material with the ability to self-extinguish any flames it may be exposed to. The purpose should be to minimize any damage and preserve life. When shopping for this type of clothing, you should to stick with brands that have a proven history of success.

To protect your hands, look for gloves that are insulated. These may be ozone-resistant or non-resistant. The ozone-resistant gloves are not as flexible, but they are less likely to crack than the ones that are not resistant. Over these gloves, you should then wear protector gloves, which can prevent electric shock better than ones made out of leather. Likewise, it is best to choose footwear, helmets and protective eyeglasses that are specifically designed to resist electrical currents.

2. Be aware of your environment

Increasing your awareness of your workplace environment can go a long way in keeping you safe. If it has been raining, be sure to check for any standing water or even damp surfaces, as water is a conductor for electricity. Even if there is no circuit or outlet near the area, using a power tool can expose the cord to the water and lead to a painful burn.

3. Inspect power tools and use appropriately

Your supervisor should provide you training on how to use tools that are powered with electricity. Some common rules to remember are:

  • Use tools that are double-insulated.
  • Don't use the cord as a carrying handle.
  • Look for any fraying or other damage to the cord and the plug itself.
  • Don't disconnect a tool by pulling on the cord.
  • Make sure the area you are working in has sufficient light.

Additionally, you should make sure that when you are changing parts on the machine, it is unplugged. Any tool that shows wear and tear or damage should be immediately taken out of operation.

If you are injured while on a job, you should consider meeting with an attorney who handles these types of cases. The attorney can advise you of your rights and explain the process of filing a claim for workers' compensation.

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