OSEA Safety News

Lightning Safety

Friday, May 10th, 2019

There’s a rule of thumb if you’re outside and hear thunder strike from a distance. You can tell if the storm is getting closer or farther from you by counting the seconds between the lightning striking and the thunder clapping. If the seconds are getting longer, you know the storm is getting farther. Did you know, lightning strikes the United States an estimated 25 million times a year? Don’t become a fatality of that statistic by following some basic safety tips when dealing with lightning during a storm.

In terms of practicing safety outdoors as it relates to weather:

  • A nice slogan, from weather.gov, does a good job at explaining this first tip; When thunder roars, go indoors! Don’t risk your safety by waiting for the thunder to get closer in distance. When you hear it, get into a safe building or vehicle as soon as you can.
  • Although the only way you can truly protect yourself from being struck is going indoors, there are ways to reduce your risk of being struck slightly.
    • Stay away from wide open fields
    • If in a group, spread out from each other as to stop the current from spreading to other members.
    • Stay away from water and metal objects. These items are conductors of electricity.

In terms of safety while working outdoors as it relates to weather:

  • Employers need to recognize lightning as an occupational hazard and it should be taken very seriously.
  • Know if your job has a high probability of lightning risk. Jobs like these include working in open spaces, near tall objects, or near explosive materials.
  • Employers and workers need to understand the risks and pre cautions of lightning risks. Do not begin tasks you cannot finish before the storm touches down near you. And never begin working on that task again until you’re sure the storm is over.
  • Always check weather reports before beginning any work outside. Make sure to reschedule jobs when needed as to keep your employees safe.
  • Always have an Emergency Action plan for thunderstorms. All workers and supervisors must take immediate action when hearing any thunder or seeing any pre-storm warning signs.

There are many more things you can do to prepare to avoid lightning risks. There’s even indoor tips that can be helpful to use. Find them here: https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning-indoors

Never underestimate the power of electricity. It’s a dangerous game to play, and should be taken seriously. Stay safe.

Sources:

https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning-outdoors

https://www.weather.gov/media/owlie/OSHA_FS-3863_Lightning_Safety_05-2016.pdf

https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning

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