Worker Fatally Electrocuted on Construction Site

Stephen Gomez

Written by
— Updated on February 9, 2017

This case involves a construction injury. The plaintiff was working with a jackhammer, and had experience using this specific piece of equipment for a number of years. His experience, however, was limited to rural areas, and the current job was taking place in an urban setting. When foreman left for his lunch, he encouraged the worker to “get a little deeper” before he returned. The worker continued to jackhammer half a foot deeper into the ground and struck a power cord, which electrocuted and killed him.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • What safety measures are usually taken when using a jackhammer in an urban environment?

Expert Witness Response

Situations like this are usually avoided by following OSHA-approved procedures. All construction workers should be trained for how to handle power lines safely. In this case, the worker clearly did not have adequate knowledge of the circumstances of his job. Having only worked in a rural setting, he was unfamiliar with the power lines that are laid underground in urban areas. The plaintiff’s prior experience should have been kept in mind while he was hired by the construction company and trained and placed by the foreman. Though the construction company hires workers, the foreman is the one who normally places employees in specific tasks during a job. A foreman must be able to evaluate employees and determine the best area of placement to ensure the efficient completion of the project. The construction company should follow OSHA guidelines and regulations for ensuring the safety of construction workers on the job site. Particularly, the foreman should have given more specific instructions, and not left the worker unsupervised. Had the foreman or another worker knowledgeable about urban powerlines been watching, someone could have stopped the plaintiff before he dug too deep.

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