Construction sites lose billions of dollars because of weather delays and damages. Severe weather also puts workers in danger. In 2015, a crew was working in between rain showers to install a roof when one of the workers was fatally struck by lightning. This entire incident could have been avoided if they had simply waited 30 minutes after the storm had passed before returning to work.
To help prevent tragedies like this from occurring, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommend that construction employers and workers train in summer weather safety that includes topics about excessive heat, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and lightning. They begin by saying if there is a chance of thunderstorms, excessive rain or lightning, construction workers should not start a project or task that cannot be easily stopped. If anyone hears thunder, workers should go inside immediately, even if the rumble is distant.
Before beginning outdoor work, supervisors should stay up-to-date with weather forecasts by listening to NOAA weather reports. They should also identify shelter locations. These should be fully enclosed buildings with electrical wiring and plumbing. If safe building structures are not accessible, construction workers should go inside hard-topped metal vehicles and roll up the windows. Wherever they are, they should remain indoors until 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.
Lightning is very dangerous and should be recognized as an occupational hazard. It’s very difficult to know when it’s going to strike, so NOAA recommends listening to weather alerts, including the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards. There are also lightening detections and notification services available.
Management should also train workers on lightning safety. Training should cover emergency plans that go over what do if workers hear thunder, as well as when to provide lightning safety warnings that give everyone enough time to reach a safe shelter.
Severe weather can wreak havoc on a construction site, causing damage, delays, injury and even death. Supervisors and workers must know what to do when it strikes. If you have any questions or would like information about construction site security and video surveillance, contact us here.