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The unshocking truth: How to prevent electrocution

Most construction workers find themselves at risk of electrocution at some point in their jobs. Even if you don't work with electrical wires you could be at risk of electrocution if you use power tools -- especially while performing your job duties outdoors.

Fortunately, you can avoid most electrocutions and other electrical accidents by playing it safe and following some common sense advice.

Tips to avoid one-the-job electrocutions

Here are six tips every construction worker should know about electrical safety:

  • Turn off the power: If you're working on a piece of electrical equipment, or if you're doing work on electrical lines, turn off the necessary circuit breaker. If you're adjusting an appliance that plugs into power, disconnect it. However, do be careful if the device has a capacitor that could be under load -- then you'll need to discharge the capacitor of electricity (see bullet three).
  • Double-check to see if it has power: Even after you've disconnected the circuit breaker, check the wiring to ensure that it's completely disconnected. You can use an electricity tester for this, or you can plug something into the circuit to see if current flows to it.
  • Discharge capacitors: Capacitors store and regulate electricity inside of devices. If you've opened up an electrical device, you need to discharge the capacitor because the capacitor will have electricity inside it that could shock you. Be sure to consult with an electrician if an item you're working on has a capacitor. The electrician will know how to discharge the device.
  • Use a ground-fault circuit interrupter: GFCIs come with some extension cords. They will shut the power off in case of an electric surge in order to prevent shocks and electrocutions.
  • Make sure to use insulated tools: If your tools have rubber handles and other electrical safety features, you'll run less of a risk of getting electrocuted.
  • Turn off devices before disconnecting them: If you're using a power tool, don't simply unplug the device without first turning it off. Similarly, make sure to turn devices off before you plug them into power. This will prevent arcs of electrical current that could shock you.

Were you shocked on the job?

Whether you were shocked on the job, or your loved died from electrocution, it may be possible to receive workers' compensation benefits regarding the accident. A successfully navigated workers' compensation claim can provide workers with money to pay for medical care and time spent unable to work.

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