Lightning safety at the construction site isn’t one of the hazards people tend to be most concerned with. After all, lightning only strikes about 300 people per year in the US, making it a relatively rare occurrence with long odds. Of those 300 victims, about 10 percent are killed, while many of the others suffer lifelong disabilities.
Regardless of the odds, it’s important to take lightning safety at the construction site seriously. This is particularly true in Florida, the state where people are most often struck by lightning. Some simple precautions can prevent tragedies.
Below are some key pointers for minimizing any risk of you or any worker at a job site getting struck by lightning.
Lightning Safety at the Construction Site
- Be aware that lightning often strikes outside the area of heaviest rain, and it can strike up to about 10 miles away from the rainfall. Many victims are struck before the rainfall arrives or after it has passed, having thought they were safe.
- If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
- Monitor weather reports and take hazardous weather conditions into account when scheduling workers.
- Watch for darkening clouds combined with accelerating winds—signs of a developing thunderstorm—and listen for thunder at the job site.
- Seek shelter in an enclosed building with wiring and plumbing (these act as grounding) or a hard-top metal vehicle with its windows rolled up when there’s lightning in the area.
- Stay away from windows and doors.
- Don’t lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
- Refrain from making contact with potential conductors in a building, such as corded phones, wires, electrical equipment, plumbing fixtures, etc.
- If you’re stuck outside, avoid open areas where you are the tallest thing in the immediate vicinity; lightning tends to strike the highest object around.
- Don’t stand by an isolated tall object, such as a tree, utility pole, crane, ladder, scaffold, etc.
- Don’t stand in or near any body of water or right by any metal fencing or other metal objects. While water and metal don’t attract lightning as many people believe, they are excellent conductors of electricity, which can travel significant distances through them.