What are common examples of Electric Shock Claims?
Many people underestimate just how easily an electric shock at work can occur. Whilst most industrial machinery and equipment operates at thousands of volts, even an exposed voltage at as low as 50 volts is all that is required to cause personal harm. When a person is ’shocked’, a current flow is channeled through the body, blocking electrical signals between the brain and muscles, causing a temporary loss of function, or ‘shock’. Understandably, then, serious injuries resulting from being exposed to electrical equipment can vary in severity – from muscular and nervous damage and thermal burns on contact, to cardiac arrest due to the effect of electricity on heartbeat rhythm, which may, in the worst case, prove fatal. These more severe cases are usually known as an electrocution.
Electrical shocks have been known to cause muscle spasms capable of breaking bones and causing fractures. Occasionally, these spasms can even cause bones to snap, or to pop out of their sockets.. Where any injuries are sustained and cause complications through no fault of your own, a personal injury claim for compensation may be built.
The main hazards relating to electrical equipment in the workplace are:
- contact with live parts which should have been covered which may cause shocks or burns
- electrical faults which could cause fire, which may be due to negligence in inspection of the premises. This might include the careless placement of exacerbating factors such as water
- fire or explosion where electricity could be the source of ignition in a potentially flammable or explosive atmosphere, which may again be accountable to negligence in maintenance checks or risk assessments
Under the Health and Safety Act of 1974, employers have a duty to ensure that necessary health and safety precautions are taken in their handling of electrical equipment. There are a number of industries where electric shocks frequently cause injury, including:
- Catering staff
- Construction/maintenance workers
- Hospital/care home staff
- Maintenance workers
- Office workers
- Theatre production staff.
This list is far from exhaustive: as we enter a more technological era, cases of electrocution are increasing in frequency.
What Are My Employer’s Responsibilities?
There are a number of key pieces of government literature that define the rights of employees to work in premises where employers have implemented electrical health and safety measures. Most pertinently, these include:
The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW), which requires all employers to assess the risks which may affect the health and safety of employees and anyone else affected by what they do while at work.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPEW) places emphasis on PPE, requiring that PPE, tools and equipment are inspected and maintained to ensure suitability– this legislation also provides guidance to employers on the provision of instructions, for the safe use of equipment. It is essential that after training is given, prior to working with electricity, checks are still made to ensure that workers are competent, understand the risks and have been provided with the appropriate PPE. Where adequate PPE cannot be provided, resulting in personal injury which wasn’t your fault, a personal injury claim may be built.
The Electricity At Work Regulations 1998 (EAW) states specific guidelines on the training of employees to work with electricity, as well as the measures taken to cover live wires adequately, whilst undergoing best practice procedures in performing a risk assessment involving electrical equipment.
Of all the health and safety measures available, a risk assessment is arguably the most important. When adequately performed, it should take into account all risks associated with electricity, and help managers and supervisors to decide on what is required for employees to safely use and maintain electrical installations and equipment, and how often maintenance should be scheduled and performed.
A risk assessment should also account for contextual factors and contingencies throughout the working year, particularly where work around electricity is a regular occurrence. The risks are greatest in harsh conditions, and employers should be aware of these risk factors and take mitigating measures, either by calling off electrical work or by equipping the premises and workers, and ensuring all employees are aware of potential risks. Common examples of electrical risk factors are:
- wet surroundings, where unsuitable equipment can easily become live and can make its surroundings live;
- outdoor use, where equipment may become wet but may also face greater risk of damage, for example during windy conditions which may result in cables breaking, exposing live wires
- cramped spaces with a lot of earthed metalwork (for example within a tank), where, if an electrical fault were to develop, avoiding a shock would be difficult.
Employees working in such conditions should be aware of these hazards and be briefed on the relevant safety measures to prevent serious accidents from happening.
How Do I Know If I Have An Electric Shocks And Electrocution Claim?
Incidents of electric shocks can be caused by a wide array of errors which amount to employer negligence. From failing to ensure electrical equipment is adequately covered and protected, to allowing water and electricity to mix – or providing inadequate Personal Protective Equipment.
Another common injury involving electrical equipment is a thermal burn, which can occur when regular checks on electrical equipment are not performed. Due to electrical equipment naturally heating up during use, employers should be aware that it may deteriorate over time – becoming overloaded, faulty, or shorted, particularly when poorly maintained. Even low voltage batteries (such as those in motor vehicles) can get hot and may explode if shorted out, causing thermal burns. A claim may be considered where training on these hazards has been inadequate, where workers have been exposed to risks without being equipped with the necessary PPE and trained in its use, or where risks have not been identified and measures taken to mitigate them.
Our Experience in dealing with Electrical Injuries
At Asons Solicitors, we understand how electrical injuries can be painful, traumatic, frustrating, and even, in some cases, debilitating. From bone breakages and fractures to cases of cardiac arrest and fatalities, electric shocks may cause devastating consequences. Whatever the injury, it is likely that time off will be needed to recover which can result in a substantial loss of income. Victims may also suffer negative psychological symptoms from being let down by a trusted employer and may even wrongly blame themselves for their injury, causing stress and other adverse effects. A successful electrical shock compensation claim can help mitigate that loss of earnings, whilst paying towards medical treatment to ensure a full and healthy recovery.
To maximise your chances of making a successful shock or electrocution compensation claim, you should speak to Asons Solicitors today. We can act on your behalf to collate the required records and evidence to substantiate your claim – whilst providing expert support and advice every step of the way. We deal with personal injury claims every day, so we understand how hard it can be for sufferers to take this important and decisive step. The law protects those who come forward to claim compensation, so it is imperative that you do not fear for your job security when electing to make a claim. If an employer has been negligent in their duty to provide a safe working environment for you, or if their work has caused you injury as a member of the public and you have suffered as a result, compensation is the lawful way for them to make amends.
By speaking to our expert personal injury solicitors, you will be guaranteed to receive the utmost care and attention whilst we deal with your electric shock compensation claim.
Industrial Accidents Support
Our comprehensive guide to the problem of accidents sustained at work, called Workplace Accidents – The Occupational Hazard, details all types of common claims from falls to electric shocks to hearing loss, alongside remarkable statistics on their occurrence.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provides plenty of helpful information for both employers and victims of electrocution, which can help make surveyors aware of their rights. It provides brochures and printed material for use around the work place as well as guides and checklists for ensuring employee safety. It also includes directions to other support groups that deal with specific injuries so you may find added support and information there. Shattered Lives is a foundation set up to help victims deal with workplace incidents which cause them debilitating injury.