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Lightning Safety on the Outside Job!

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Summer and thunderstorms go hand-in-hand and that means lightning! For those who work in outdoor spaces, lightning safety is definitely something to keep in mind at all times. We’ve all probably have heard the phrase, “when thunder roars, go indoors.” Here are some common Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to outdoor safety and lightning:  

Do:

  • Check the weather forecast. Be aware of upcoming storms, and if the forecast calls for thunderstorms, make sure you have adequate safe shelter options.
  • Find a safe, enclosed shelter when you hear thunder. Safe shelters could be a home, offices, shopping centers or even a hard-top vehicle with the windows rolled up.
  • Seek shelter immediately if a thunderstorm is heading your way to remove yourself from the danger. If there is no shelter available, these actions may reduce your risk…but does not remove you from the danger completely:
    • Get off of any elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.
    • Never lie flat on the ground (goal is minimum contact on the ground), but you can crouch down in a ball-like position with your head tucked and hands over your ear.
    • Do not shelter under an isolated tree – ever!
    • Do not use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
    • Get out of and away from any water immediately.
    • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, which as power lines, barbed wire fences).

Don’t:

  • Stay in open vehicles (convertibles, motorcycles, golf carts), structures (porches, gazebos, sports arenas), or spaces (golf courses, bodies of water, playgrounds).
  • Stay near tall structures – avoid leaning on concrete walls as lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls and flooring.
  • Venture out too quickly after a thunderstorm – it is recommended to shelter in place for at least 30 minutes.

Lightning can occur any time of year, but July is generally the month with the most lightning, and lightning casualties are highest during the summer with 2/3 of all lightning casualties occur between noon and 6pm. Take steps this summer to keep yourself and your team members safe while working outdoors when a thunderstorm is heading your way!

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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