Working outdoors brings about special concerns especially during inclement weather. Summer is especially worrisome due to the amount of unexpected thunderstorms that spring up when humidity and temperatures are high. With these thunderstorms come other elements that are dangerous to workers including large amounts of rain, flooding, and lightning.
Lightning is particularly dangerous to all workers as it can cause severe injuries or even death to anyone in the vicinity. Those who have been struck by lightning on the job have reported weak muscles, confusion, a tingling or numbness in their body. In some cases, people struck by lightning have been killed on site.
Those working outdoors are most susceptible to lightning strikes especially those in open spaces, under trees, by water, or near metal buildings or fences. It is important to take cover during a thunderstorm and stay away from doors and windows. Even getting into a vehicle can be a safer location than remaining out in the open.
It is estimated that lightning kills roughly 80 people in the United States each year but the list of injured people go into the hundreds. It is crucial for all employees to know how to react during a storm that is producing lightning. Taking shelter will be important to protect health and safety but it is also critical that all workers know how to handle a situation where someone has been struck by lightning.
People struck by lightning need to be tended to immediately. The victim will not pass along electricity from the lightning so you will need to check for a pulse. If there is a lack of pulse, CPR will need to be performed while emergency services are being called. If there is still lightning present, the injured worker as well as their co-workers will need to seek shelter to prevent additional injuries. Training should be provided frequently to ensure all workers know what to do during a time of emergency.