Your crew has fall protection covered and knows all about proper personal protective equipment (PPE), but what about lightning safety on construction sites? This often-overlooked concern can present real, life-threatening risks. Forbes notes that more than 250 lightning-related deaths have taken place since 2009 — and that 20 percent of lightning-related deaths in 2018 occurred in construction-related settings. In fact, a recent lightning strike sent three construction workers to the hospital near Metallic Products’ hometown of Houston.
So, how can metal building and construction crews keep safe when unpredictable weather strikes? It’s all about planning ahead and being prepared to act fast. We’ve pulled together some helpful tips focused on improving lightning safety on construction sites.
Before Hitting the Jobsite
•Ensure your team has undergone proper lightning safety training.
•Have a written emergency action plan in place, outlining everything from how to notify team members when lightning is spotted, to knowing when it is safe to resume work.
•Always check weather reports to determine the likelihood of thunderstorms and other adverse conditions.
When Storms Roll in
•Encourage team members to seek shelter in fully enclosed buildings when storm conditions become dangerous. Certain vehicles can provide adequate shelter, too, in the absence of a safe building.
•Avoid using corded phones, unless emergency situations arise.
•Remain in place for at least 30 minutes after thunder has ceased.
If Your Team is Stuck Outside
•Remember, lightning is drawn to tall objects. Avoid finding shelter around tall trees, utility poles, cell phone towers, tall equipment and the like.
•Steer clear of water, fencing, metal objects and open areas such as fields.
•Seek shelter in low-lying areas such as ditches, but never lie flat on the ground.
Looking for additional information when it comes to lightning safety on construction sites? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have pulled together a fantastic fact sheet that puts lightning safety front and center. Take some time to educate yourself about safe practices — and keep your team better protected!