Cincinnati Catastrophic Injury Lawyer reviewing Accidental Electrocution and burn injury lawsuits

Accidental Electrocution injuries and deaths are some of the most tragic and preventable construction accidents. Poor site design, equipment misuse, and often simple inattention can lead to severe injuries and death due to contact with electrical wires. In fact, accidental electrocution is the fourth most common cause of death for construction workers.

Over the course of 12 years, a study conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrated that 143 construction workers die annually as a direct result of accidental electrocution.

However, deaths secondarily related to accidental electrocution – such as burns or falls – on construction sites are numbered as high as 400 per year. Construction sites can be a dangerous place for workers, especially if they are not necessary specialized as electricians.

For example, unknown to many, the outer covering of power lines is primarily for weather protection, not to prevent electrocution of anything that comes into contact with them.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati Catastrophic Injury lawyer and Ohio workplace injury attorney representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of civil litigation and workplace injury claims.

Common Causes of Accidental Electrocution

  • Crane contact with overhead power lines
  • Excavator contact with power lines
  • Ladder  or tree contact with power lines
  • Improper use of extension cords and flexible cords cause them to wear and tear; when this occurs, live wire is exposed, thus poses a severe threat to those who make contact with it.
  • Established safe work procedures are either not implemented or not followed
  • Adequate or required personal protective equipment is not provided or worn
  • Lockout/tagout procedures are either not implemented or not followed
  • Compliance with existing OSHA, National Electrical Code, and National Electrical Safety Code regulations are not implemented
  • Worker and supervisor training in electrical safety is not adequate

OSHA Standards & Accidental Electrocution

In order to avoid accidental electrocution, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established standards necessary for appropriate work to be completed at construction sites.  Specifically in regards to crane usage, the OSHA explains that unless lines have been “de-energized and visibly grounded” or standalone, unattached insulating barriers have been put up to prevent contact with the lines, certain criteria need to be established.

Per former OHSA Standard 1926.550(a)(15) established before 2000, several crane specifications include:

  1. “For lines rated 50kV. or below, minimum clearance between the lines and any part of the crane or load shall be ten feet;”
  2. “For lines rated over 50 kV., minimum clearance between the lines and any part of the crane or load shall be 10 feet plus 0.4 inch for each 1 kV. over 50 kV., or twice the length of the line insulator, but never less than ten feet.”
  3. “A person shall be designated to observe clearance of the equipment and give timely warning for all operations where it is difficult for the operator to maintain the desired clearance by visual means;”
  4. “Any overhead wire shall be considered to be an energized line unless and until the person owning such line or the electrical utility authorities indicate that it is not an energized line and has been visibly grounded;”
  5. “Combustible and flammable materials shall be removed from the immediate area prior to operations.”

OSHA Regulations & Crane Electrocution Risks

Recently, the standards have been updated slightly to include more accurate specifications.  Requirements regarding cranes now fall under rules 1926.1400 to 1926.1442:

“Before assembling or disassembling equipment, the employer must determine if any part of the equipment, load line, or load (including rigging and lifting accessories) could get, in the direction or area of assembly/disassembly, closer than 20 feet to a power line during the assembly/disassembly process. If so, the employer must meet the requirements in Option (1), Option (2), or Option (3) of this section, as follows:

  1. “Confirm from the utility owner/operator that the power line has been de-energized and visibly grounded at the worksite;”
  2. Ensure that no part of the equipment, load line or load (including rigging and lifting accessories), gets closer than 20 feet to the power line by implementing the measures specified in paragraph (b) of this section;”
  3. Refer to a table with various voltages and clearance distances specified.

Accidental Electrocution Prevention

  • Ladders shall have non-conductive side rails if they are used where the employee or the ladder could contact exposed electrical equipment.
  • Portable metal or conductive ladders shall not be used near energized lines or equipment except as may be necessary in specialized work such as in high voltage substations where non-conductive ladders might present a greater hazards than conductive ladders.
  • Conductive or metal ladders shall be prominently marked as conductive and all necessary precautions shall be taken when used in specialized work.

Ohio Workplace Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to an accidental electrocution and have questions about the root cause and the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.


[1] “Why are So Many Construction Workers Being Electrocuted?” Electronic Library of Construction Workers Being Electrocuted.

[2] “Electrocution is a Threat to Construction Workers.” Marvin A. Cooper, P.C. .

[3] “Construction Focus Four: Electrocution Hazards.” OSHA Training Institute.

[4] Worker Deaths by Electrocution, a Summary of NIOSH Surveillance and Investigative Findings.” National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Report No 98–131. Cincinnati, OH: NIOSH, May 1998.

[5] “Frequently Violated OSHA Standards Related to Overhead Power Lines in the Construction Industry.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. .