Reducing Lightning Hazards When Working Outdoors


Lightning. A natural weather condition is always seen through the gloomy rainy sky however deadly if encountered. Lightning is a brutal and fatal force of nature. In fact, in the United states, the cloud-to-ground lightning strike occurs over 20 to 25 million times per annum and more than 300 people have fallen to its victim. On average for the past 30-year period, annually, almost 50 people are killed by it, and those who survived?; suffered from permanent disabilities.

Employees whose regular working sites occur in the open spaces outdoor, on or near tall items, or near to explosives or conductive materials are at high risk of being struck by lightning. As imperative as it is, employers should acknowledge the risks and precautions to prevent their workers’ exposure to lightning as a fatal occupational hazard.

Reducing Risk of Lightning Hazard

As advised by US NOAA, anywhere outside during thunderstorms are NOT safe. Once a rumbling is heard,  you should evacuate to a safe place immediately, even if the thunder is heard from miles away.

According to OSHA and NOAA, it is recommended for both employers and supervisors to follow these lightning safety regulations especially for workers involved in outdoors working sites.

Check NOAA Weather Reports

Prior to beginning any outdoor work, employers and supervisors should check NOAA weather reports ( and radio forecasts for all weather hazards. OSHA recommends that
employers consider rescheduling jobs to avoid workers being caught outside in hazardous weather conditions. When working outdoors, supervisors and workers should continuously
monitor weather conditions. Watch for darkening clouds and increasing wind speeds, which can indicate developing thunderstorms. Pay close attention to local television, radio, and Internet weather reports, forecasts, and emergency notifications regarding thunderstorm activity and severe weather.

Seek Shelter in Buildings

NOAA recommends seeking out fully enclosed buildings with electrical wiring and plumbing. Remain in the shelter for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last sound of thunder.

Seek Vehicles as Shelter

If safe building structures are not accessible, employers should guide workers to hard-topped metal vehicles with rolled up windows. Remain in the vehicle for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last sound of thunder.

Phone Safety

After hearing thunder, do not use corded phones, except in an emergency. Cellphones and cordless phones may be used safely.