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Employers and workers must take seriously threat of arc flashes

Electric workers in Georgia face many hazards, and arc flashes and explosions from live electrical wires represent a deadly threat. Every year, about 2,000 people go to hospitals with arc flash injuries. The severe burns associated with most of these accidents kill about 20 percent of victims annually.

Personal protective equipment and effective safety training play essential roles in limiting accidents and protecting workers. Over the last five years, manufacturers have made significant improvements to fabrics and insulation used to make arc flash protective clothing. The advances produce higher levels of burn protection and allow the worker to move with greater comfort. Effective clothing will have a rating not only for flame resistance, but also for arc protection.

A safety director from the National Electrical Contractors Association said that both employers and employees share responsibility for safety. Employers have a duty to train workers about safety and provide safety gear. Workers should also follow safety procedures. Updates to safety guidelines that will become effective in 2018 advise safety managers to recognize arc flash hazards if conditions pose the possibility of injury. Required steps for safety planning have been expanded with a larger focus on spotting dangers and lowering risks for workers.

Workplace safety benefits from the combined efforts of all parties, but accidents can still happen. When they do, a person has workers' compensation insurance to pay for medical care, lost pay or disability. If one has trouble reporting an accident or filing an insurance claim, an attorney could strive to overcome barriers. An attorney could identify the coverage specified in an insurance policy and prepare claim paperwork. If the person has concerns about violations of safety regulations, an attorney might recommend informing federal regulators. In some cases, a personal injury lawsuit against the employer could be appropriate.

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