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Safety Tips - Lightning Safety When Working Outdoors

Lightning Safety When Working Outdoors
Article provided by OSHA

Lightning strikes can severely injure or kill workers whose jobs involve working outdoors.

Workers whose jobs involve working outdoors in open spaces have significant exposure to lightning risks.

Reducing Lightning Hazards When Working Outdoors

Lightning is unpredictable and can strike outside the heaviest rainfall areas or even up to 10 miles from any rainfall.

When thunder roars, go indoors! If you hear thunder, even a distant rumble, get to a safe place immediately. Thunderstorms always include lightning. Any thunder you hear is caused by lightning!

Vehicles as Shelter: If safe building structures are not accessible, employers should guide workers to hard-topped metal vehicles with rolled up windows.

Phone Safety: After hearing thunder, do not use corded phones, except in an emergency. Cell phones and cordless phones may be used safely.

If Caught Outside in a Thunderstorm
There simply is no safe place outside in a thunderstorm. If you are caught outside follow these recommendations to decrease the risk of being struck.

  • Lightning is likely to strike the tallest objects in a given area—you should not be the tallest object.
  • Avoid isolated tall trees, hilltops, utility poles, cell phone towers, cranes, large equipment, ladders, scaffolding, or rooftops.
  • Avoid open areas, such as fields. Never lie flat on the ground.
  • Retreat to dense areas of smaller trees that are surrounded by larger trees, or retreat to low lying areas (e.g., valleys, ditches) but watchfor flooding.
  • Avoid water, and immediately get out of and away from bodies of water (e.g., pools, lakes). Water does not attract lightning, but it is an excellent conductor of electricity
  • Avoid wiring, plumbing, and fencing. Lightning can travel long distances through metal, which is an excellent conductor of electricity. Stay away from all metal objects, equipment, and surfaces that can conduct electricity.
  • Do not shelter in sheds, pavilions, tents, or covered porches as they do not provide adequate protection from lightning.
  • A building is a safe shelter as long as you are not in contact with anything that can conduct electricity (e.g., electrical equipment or cords, plumbing fixtures, corded phones). Do not lean against concrete walls or floors (which may have metal bars inside).