Prevent Lightning Hazards From Summer Storms

The flip side to summer's sunny days are the (often sudden) thunder/lightning storms the season brings. An average of 50 people are killed by lightning each year and outdoor workers are particularly vulnerable. To reduce lightning hazards when working outdoors, OSHA recommends having an Emergency Action Plan setting forth safety protocol which should do the following:

  • Inform supervisors and workers to take action after hearing thunder, seeing lighting, or perceiving any other warning signs of approaching thunderstorms
  • Indicate how workers are notified about lightning safety warnings
  • Identify locations and requirements for safe shelters
  • Indicate response times necessary for all workers to reach safe shelters
  • Specify approaches for determining when to suspend outdoor work activities, and when to resume outdoor work activities
  • Account for the time required to evacuate customers and members of the public and the time needed for workers to reach safety.

The Emergency Action Plan information should be posted at outdoor worksites and employees should be trained on lightning safety procedures that it outlines.

It is important to check accurate weather reports before and during the workday from a reliable source such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). If possible, reschedule work to avoid workers being outside during a storm and if a thunderstorm is imminent, avoid working on jobs that cannot be quickly ended.

For more information on lightning safety, see OSHA's Lightning Safety fact sheet here: