Stormy weather poses a serious threat to outdoor workers. Did you know that lightning kills an average of 54 people every year? Any time you see a storm in the distance, there’s a chance that you could be struck, too. With the onset of the spring storm season, it’s a good time to review some things about lightning.
Hearing thunder means you are already in a danger zone
It’s a fact that those who hear thunder are already in range of potential lightning strikes. That’s why lightning safety is so important for construction teams and those who may work outdoors. For instance, if you work on a metal ladder and hear thunder, what should you do? Do you stay where you are until you see a storm? Do you get down and go inside?
The reality is that if you can hear thunder, you’re already within striking distance, so staying on a metal ladder increases your risk of injury. Any employer with employees who work outside should call them inside or, at the very least, ask that they do not work with metal or at a height while the storm is brewing.
What makes lightning so dangerous to people?
Electricity travels easily through water, and human bodies are around 60% water. This means that an electrical strike can easily travel through the body.
Lightning can be up to five miles long and may be up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. With up to 100 million electrical volts, it’s easy to see how just one strike could be enough to kill.
What should you do if you’re working and see lightning (or hear thunder) in the distance?
When a storm is on its way, it’s a good idea to start putting away your work. While this can slow down construction and may seem unnecessary, it’s important that you don’t put people’s lives at risk. With heavy rain, winds and lightning, there is a real potential for harm to come to those who work outside. Hail and other hazards could also occur, creating even more chances for injury.
Though the chances of being struck by lightning are low, people who work outside are at a higher risk than many others. If you’re struck, you may be able to file for workers’ compensation, which can help cover your medical care, lost wages and other financial losses as you work toward recovery.