Many Minnesota residents have suffered an electric shock at one time or another, but these injuries are often mild and require no medical treatment. However, electricity is also a leading cause of residential and industrial fires in the United States, and 156 workers lost their lives in accidents involving electricity in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The amount of electric current involved and the amount of time that a human body is exposed to it are what separate a mild shock from a life-threatening event, and only one-tenth of an ampere of electricity for two seconds can be enough to prove fatal. Just as concerning are smaller voltages that can render the muscles of the hand and arm unresponsive, which can leave workers unable to drop electrified tools or equipment. Efforts to reduce electrical accidents in the workplace often focus on handheld tools that can shock workers in this way.

Electrical accidents are one of the leading causes of workplace injuries on construction sites. OSHA data reveals that electrocutions were one of the top three causes of the more than 700 American construction workers killed in 2011, and many of these deaths may have been prevented by more sophisticated equipment and more comprehensive training. Ladders are often cited as a cause of construction accidents involving overhead power lines, and injuries could be reduced if they are inspected regularly and fitted with side rails that are non-conductive.

Benefits provided by Minnesota’s workers’ compensation program can help those injured on the job to cope with their medical expenses and meet their financial obligations, but the application system can be confusing. Attorneys with experience in these matters could explain to injured workers the benefits that may be available and help to ensure that the claims are filed on a timely basis.