Watch out for lightning risk on Florida construction sites: OSHA

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A crane rental service reports that lightning strikes are a real risk for Florida construction workers — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports an average of 10 deaths and 40 injuries from lightning in Florida each year, most in the summer months.

Lightning is the second largest killer due to storms, exceeded only by floods, the OSHA says.

“Checking the weather and monitoring approaching storms is especially important in Florida in the summer,” says Sims Crane safety director Bob Berry. “I recommend checking the Weather Channel before you get on site, then using a weather app on your phone or a NOAA weather radio at the job site.”

OSHA’s best practices are:

  • Adhere to the “30-30” rule for lightning
  • Postpone activities
  • Unplug sensitive electronics
  • Keep away from electrical equipment, wiring and water pipes
  • Plan in advance your evacuation/safety measures
  • Avoid water, high ground, open spaces and metal objects; find shelter in a substantial building

Workers should avoid:

  • Metal fences or metal objects such as carts, agricultural or construction equipment, golf carts, telephone lines or power lines, pipelines or steel fabrications
  • Leaning against cars or metal objects
  • Holding metal objects such as tools

The 30-30 rule applies to the lightning’s distance – watch the sky and count the time from the flash to the bang and for each five seconds between, the lightning is approximately one mile away. “You need to activate your lightning safety plan at the count of 30, or six miles away, and don’t resume activities for 30 minutes after the storm ends,” said Berry. “Generally speaking, if you see lightning and/or hear thunder, you are already at risk.”

 

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