Outdoor Workplace Lightning Safety Tips
At the first sound of thunder, seek shelter immediately. Always wait at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder to leave a place of shelter. Many people who are struck by lightning are hit because they assume too quickly that the storm has passed. Stay away from any electrical cords, power equipment or other power sources. Keep power tools unplugged during a storm.
If there is no form of physical shelter nearby, seek shelter in a vehicle. For example, a construction worker would be safer in a metal-topped vehicle than in a frame of a home. Many construction workers mistakenly assume that they are safe in a home with a roof and no walls. When a construction site or a finished building has windows, stay as far away from them as possible to avoid injuries from flying objects.
For those who are caught outside during a lightning storm with no adequate shelter, there are no safety guarantees. However, these tips will help reduce the risk of being struck:
- Since lightning is likely to strike tall objects, avoid elevated areas.
- Do not stand under isolated trees, towers or pieces of equipment.
- Do not lie flat in an open field.
- If possible, find an area with several small trees that are surrounded by larger trees.
- Stay away from bodies of water such as pools, ponds and streams.
Lightning Safety Training
Employers should provide safety training for each outdoor worksite. If workers will be in areas where there is no access to an enclosed shelter, employers should provide information about how to reduce safety risks and find the safest nearby area. If a shelter is nearby, there should be a map posted on the worksite showing workers how to reach it. Also, the map should tell workers how long it takes to reach the shelter.
Emergency Action Planning
Experts recommend having an emergency plan that includes advance warnings. Employers may do this by monitoring NOAA weather conditions and alerting affected workers in advance. In areas that are prone to lightning strikes, employers may use special detection systems for increased safety. These handheld devices are portable and function by picking up electromagnetic signals from nearby strikes. With the data from the nearby strike, the detector can estimate the distance of it.
A detector does not pick up all strikes and may not always be 100 percent accurate with measurements. Unfortunately, no system is perfect enough to detect the first strike of lightning. Monitoring weather reports and telling workers to take shelter when there is a significant chance of lightning can help reduce risks. Working on scaffolds, cranes or wall tops when there are heavy winds or storms is strictly prohibited by OSHA. To learn more about lightning safety for outdoor work sites, discuss concerns with an agent today 314-351-HALO(4256).