Although construction work carries inherent dangers, employers have a duty to reduce the risk of injury for all employees on the job site. There are even state laws outlining safety measures to protect construction workers from burns, electric shocks, or electrocution. When these injuries occur, employers and site owners could be held liable for medical bills, disability payments, rehabilitation costs, and wrongful death damages.
Protection From Electrical Hazards Under Section 23
NY Labor Law 241 requires owners and contractors to make construction sites as safe as possible for workers. Under Section 241(6), owners and contractors are ordered to comply with any rules made by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor to carry out the provisions of the law.
The Department of Labor has since created specific construction safety rules, such as Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code. Part 23-1.13 set out practices to prevent injuries from electrical hazards, which applies to all owners and employers who are not under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission.
Contractors and their agents on NY construction sites are held to the following electrical safety standards:
- Precautions. Any power lines or facilities near construction, demolition, or excavation sites shall be treated as energized until they have been designated as otherwise by a qualified agent of the operators of the power lines.
- Voltage determination. Employers must determine and properly identify the voltage levels of any energized power lines or facilities near a job site before any construction, demolition, or excavation begins.
- Defect warnings. Before work begins, employers have a duty to investigate whether any part of an electric power circuit could come into unintended contact with any person, tool, or machine. If such a circuit exists, the employer must advise all employees of the location of the fault as well as posting proper warning signs at the location and inform workers of the hazards involved.
- Proximity and protection. Employers must not allow any employee to work near any part of a live power circuit unless the employee is protected against electric shock by de-energizing the circuit, guarding the circuit, or using effective insulation. If the exact locations of underground power lines are unknown, any employee using jack hammers or hand tools in these areas must be provided with insulated protective gloves, aprons, and footwear.
- Circuit-interruption switches. If employees are protected from electrical hazards by de-energizing a nearby circuit, employers must guard open switches or circuit interrupting devices to prevent unintended closing until employees are no longer at risk.
- Utility company notification. If any construction work is to be done within 10 feet of any live overhead power line, or planned excavation work could disturb a live underground power line, the employer must notify the appropriate utility company in writing at least five working days before work begins.
- Grounding generators. No portable electric power generators on any construction, demolition, or excavation site shall be used unless the frames and pole of the electrical output are grounded.
- Defective insulation. Any wiring must be immediately removed and discarded if its insulation layer is cracked, worn, or otherwise deteriorated.
- Temporary wiring. No temporary wiring should be looped over nails or brackets, and no bare wires or other unprotected current-carrying parts may be located within eight feet above any surface where persons work or pass unless completely guarded by an adequate barrier.
- Elevated power lines. All elevated power lines that cross highways, access roads, or areas traveled by construction vehicles must have vertical clearance of no less than 18 feet.
- Equipment warning. Any machinery used on a construction site that has a boom or similar moving extension must be labeled with a durable warning sign (that is clearly visible to the operator of the machinery) stating that it is unlawful for the equipment to be used within 10 feet of an energized high-voltage electric power line.
Let Our Experienced Attorneys Help You After an Electrical Accident
If you or someone you love was hurt by a live wire on a New York construction site, our legal team will do everything we can to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact Hofmann & Schweitzer today or learn more about your rights in our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.