How Do We Safely Manage the Dangers Posed by Electricity?
Not long ago someone asked “have you had any challenging cases involving electricity?” The answer of course is yes. Electricity is a dangerous commodity with which we surround ourselves daily. Because we take steps to confine it to wires behind outlets we can sometimes fool ourselves into seeing it as safe. But it is not safe. In short, safety rules involving electricity reduce down to two principles: isolate or insulate.
High power lines are ordinarily isolated from human contact by virtue of their being high upon a pole. These high-power lines often are not insulated with any wrapping around the wire, rather they can be bare wires that are high in the air and their isolation from humans on the ground is what renders them safe. We’ve helped several clients on cases involving outdoor power lines on poles. For example, some of the cases we’ve dealt with involved people with ladders getting near to power lines as they string Christmas tree lights and situations where power lines have come loose from the pole and are at ground level. Other cases involved a truck bed being raised high into the air, an excavator crane moving near to a high-power line, and someone lifting a long pole or object up from the ground below a high-power line.
When electrical power is insulated in protected wires behind walls and outlet covers, the safety issue involves rules about maintaining insulation. These rules, for example, specify that power must be disconnected when the need to change an outlet arises, and that steps need to be taken to prevent re-energizing the powerline inadvertently while people are working on the lines. Over the years, we’ve helped people with electrical injury cases involving insulated wires. Sometimes these cases involve a factory worker who turns off the power, but forgets to post a lockout note at the circuit box, and another worker comes along and turns the power back on while the first worker is still working on the lines.
Our experiences with electrical injuries are many. Unfortunately, these cases often involve burns of a serious nature and even death. Electricity can be extremely dangerous, but it can be handled safely when the right safety rules are followed.