Electricity is one of the biggest risk factors for those who work in construction, but people in all lines of work can wind up exposed to electricity on the job. Electrocution incidents could result from frayed wires or wet surfaces, not just from installing or repairing electrical systems.
Someone in an office could electrocute themselves on a printer or computer, while a cook could get electrocuted due to a shorted wire in a microwave. Electrical injuries often require medical care and an extended leave of absence from work while the injured party heals.
What are the impacts of an electrical injury?
Electrocution has both immediate and delayed effects. Obviously, electrocution can stop the heart and often causes death. However, for those who survive an electrical injury, the consequences of their injury will vary. The power of the shock and the points where the electricity entered and exited the body will impact the symptoms someone has.
Electrical accidents often result in burns. People report both pain and numbness, as well as tingling, weakness or decreased motor function. Many people also suffer secondary trauma injuries from falling if they lose consciousness during the shock.
For those who suffer electrical injuries, there could be issues that arise years after they got hurt on the job. These issues, sometimes called sequelae, are the after-effects of their initial injury and the damage it did to their body or brain.
Electrical injuries can damage the brain and nerves
Research on the impact of electrocution on surviving victims has shown that some people develop new issues or symptoms between one and five years after an electrical injury. It is common for people to have nerve-related issues at the site of electrical entry, which may be permanent.
Many people will also develop neurological symptoms over time, possibly due to injury to the brain. Still others experience psychological issues, like post-traumatic stress. More than three-quarters of those who suffered severe electrical injuries had psychological symptoms after their injury.
Electrical injuries can impact your earning potential
Any of the secondary medical consequences described in the previous paragraph could impact going back to work and how much you earn. Difficulty speaking smoothly, for example, could completely undermine the success of someone who works in hospitality, while weakness or tremors might prevent someone from safely working in a factory or industrial site.
Workers dealing with medical costs and lost wages after an electrical incident may have the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits for the duration of their symptoms.