It has rained every single day this week at Command Alkon’s Corporate HQ in Birmingham, Alabama. If you’re anything like me, a mild shower is enough to make you want to lock yourself away in your bedroom and binge watch Netflix and Hulu. Unfortunately, people keep sending me bills that they want me to pay, so I still have to show up to work and perform so that I can make that paycheck. I spend all day behind a desk, so the weather doesn’t affect my ability to work; however, it’s a much different story for our friends who work on a jobsite.
Much of the construction season takes place during the summer when lightning and storms are a common occurrence, and the importance of completing a job on time can sometimes trump safety concerns associated with lightning. Although lightning may not be the culprit of as many construction industry fatalities and injuries as other hazards, workers should still be educated to avoid safety risks. I mean, if it wasn’t truly a concern, then it wouldn’t have its own week. That’s right – Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 23 through June 29 this year, so if you haven’t thought of a way to celebrate just yet, no worries; you still have some time! ;)
Here’s some tid-bits you might not have known:
- All thunderstorms produce lightning.
- Lightning often strikes outside the area of heavy rain.
- Lightning may strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall.
It's important to make sure your construction workers are trained on lightning safety and put that training into practice when lightning is spotted at an outdoor jobsite. Anyone who works outdoors during storm season needs to have a lightning safety plan. Employers and crew leaders should check weather reports every day before starting on the job.
The number one safety tip? The same thing that your mom probably told you as a child during any outdoor activity – get inside as soon as you hear thunder! Large, enclosed structures with plumbing and electrical wiring are the safest places, but if something like this is not available, an enclosed metal vehicle such as a car, truck, van, or school bus works just fine too.
This does not include construction equipment, tractors, golf carts, vehicles with open cabs, or convertible vehicles. None of these are a safe alternative.
The National Weather Service advises that if you can't get to a safe building or vehicle, follow these tips:
- Avoid open areas — do not be the tallest object in the area.
- Stay away from isolated tall trees, towers, or utility poles.
- Stay away from metal conductors like wires or fences. Lightning can travel long distances through metal.
- If you are with a group of people, spread out. This could prevent multiple casualties or injuries.
OSHA also provides some safety suggestions:
- Do not go back outside too soon after a storm has passed.
- If a storm is approaching, do not start any activity you cannot quickly stop.
- If you hear thunder, even in the distance, get to a safe place immediately.
If someone at your jobsite is struck by lightning, seek medical attention immediately. The human body is incapable of storing electricity, so any lightning strike victim is safe to touch.
For more safety-related content and tips, be sure to check out our Safety stream!