Lightning Safety for Outdoor Workers

Outdoor workers deal with many safety hazards, but one of the most unpredictable and deadly is Mother Nature. There are a few precautions that workers and employers can take when they know a storm is approaching:

  • Employers should have a plan in place that explains to workers the safety procedures that should be followed when storm events are expected to happen.
  • Pay close attention to weather reports. Try downloading an app for your smartphone that will alert you to severe weather headed your way. React immediately.
  • If you hear thunder, lightning is roughly 6-8 miles away. Seek shelter immediately.
    • Good examples of shelter are substantial buildings, fully enclosed metal vehicles with the windows up, trees or bushes of uniform height. Try to get to low ground; lightning typically strikes tall objects.
    • Poor examples of shelter include heavy and road machinery, single tall trees, water, open areas, light or electrical poles, and metal objects.
  • If you feel your hair stand on end or hear crackling noises, you are within the electrical field of the lightning. Remove all metal objects, including hats, place your feet together, duck your head, and crouch down low with your hands covering your ears.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes from the last lightning or thunder strike before resuming work activities. Stay alert because the storm may not be completely over.
  • If a coworker is struck by lightning, they do not carry an electric charge so it’s safe for you to help them immediately.

Here are some other wet weather safe practices: (Some of these pointers are for rain storms only. If lightning is likely, the above advice takes precedence.)

  • Reorganize work so that tasks are available that can be completed out of the weather.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Watch foot placement and keep an eye out for falling objects, slipping equipment, etc.
  • Make sure all electrical equipment is safe and kept out of water.
  • Erect temporary structures out of the rain using tarpaulins.
  • Minimize the amount of work to be done at heights. Use fall protection when height work is necessary.
  • Wear waterproof clothing in the rain, including shoes or boots that have slip-resistant bottoms. Continue to wear hardhats.
  • Take extra precautions when driving around the jobsite in wet weather.

This information is provided as a service to you by Compliance Consultants, Inc.

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