Spring showers bring May flowers, and with rainy weather comes thunderstorms and lightning. One of the greatest threats to workplace safety for Louisiana workers this time of year is lightning. Lightning strikes are responsible for 30 to 50 deaths each year and hundreds of injuries.
Just how powerful are lightning strikes? According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, lightning strikes carry 100 million to 1 billion volts. In comparison, the deadly electric fences in maximum security prisons carry over 4,000 volts. Lightning strikes can also heat up the surrounding air to over 50,000 degrees.
Due to the massive power of lightning strikes, it is important that businesses undertake preparations to protect workers. Following lightning safety tips may save lives.
Lightning Safety Tips and Workplace Safety
Which industries are most at risk for lightning strikes? Workers in the logging, telecom, power utility, oil, construction and agriculture industries are most at risk for being hit by lightning during severe weather. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends workers in these industries be kept off tall surfaces, such as rooftops, scaffolds, utility poles and trees. In addition, workers should be kept away from materials that conduct electricity, such as metal.
Businesses should have policies in place that quickly warn workers of imminent thunderstorms so they can retreat to safe locations. Safe locations should always be indoors. Lightning can strike from miles away, so it is important businesses give adequate notice for workers to seek shelter. Businesses should also require workers to wait for 30 minutes before returning to work outside once thunderstorms have passed.
Workers who survive lightning strikes can suffer from severe burns, blindness and psychological damage. These injuries may keep workers from being able to return to their occupations. Lightning strikes may also cause cardiac arrest and death.
Severe weather creates workplace hazards that are generally avoidable. Workers do not deserve to have their lives ruined by preventable accidents.
Galloway Jefcoat is a Lafayette personal injury law firm with 20 years of experience helping workers injured by negligent employers.