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by Duplessis Samuel on 06/21/2016 at 03:12 AM

Precautions to protect workers

Precautions to protect workers

There’s nothing you can do to control the weather, including thunderstorms that can suddenly appear out of nowhere. But one simple practice can significantly reduce the chance of one of your employees getting struck by lightning. Keep reading to find out what you can do.

In a recent blog post, Mandy Edens, director of OSHA’s Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, described the events of May 2015, when a four-person crew in Florida was installing roofing on a single-family home. “The weather was cloudy with on-and-off rain and the crew worked between rain showers,” she wrote. Around 3 p.m., the crew completed the job and was leaving the roof when a bolt of lightning struck one roofer in the head. Coworkers removed him from the roof and performed CPR until emergency responders arrived. The worker was taken to the hospital, where he died from his injuries two days later.

Edens says waiting just 30 minutes after the storm before returning to work could have saved the life of the 36-year-old roofer. She adds, “This kind of preventable workplace tragedy is why each summer, OSHA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) urge employers to train workers in summer weather safety. This includes heat, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, and lightning.” Workers should not begin any task they cannot stop quickly if there are signs of thunderstorms. If employers or workers hear thunder, even a distant rumble, everyone should get to a safe place immediately.

3 steps to protect workers

Edens recommends the following action steps:

  1. Check NOAA weather reports before beginning any outdoor work. Consult weather reports and radio forecasts for all weather hazards and plan work accordingly.
  2. Identify shelter locations. Know and advise workers which buildings to go to after hearing or seeing lightning. NOAA recommends seeking out fully enclosed buildings with electrical wiring and plumbing. Workers should be advised to remain in the shelter for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last sound of thunder. If safe building structures are not accessible, guide workers to hard-topped metal vehicles with rolled-up windows.
  3. Provide lightning safety training. OSHA recommends having an emergency action plan in place and training supervisors and workers on what to do when they hear thunder.

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