OSHA issues new fact sheet on lightning safety

Lightning strikes can severely injure or kill employees working outdoors

Posted May 20, 2016

OSHA recently issued the fact sheet “Lightning Safety When Working Outdoors” to provide employers and workers at outdoor worksites with lightning safety recommendations from both OSHA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

According to NOAA, up to 25 million lightning strikes occur in the United States every year. Although most lightning strikes take place in the summer, people can be struck at any time of year. Lightning strikes kill an average of 49 people in the United States each year, and hundreds more are severely injured. OSHA says lightning is often overlooked as an occupational hazard, and employers need to be aware of lightning hazards to ensure their workers’ safety.

OSHA recommends employers include a lightning safety protocol for outdoor workers in their Emergency Action Plan. The protocol should:

  • Inform supervisors and workers to take action after hearing thunder, seeing lightning, 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.

For more information visit the OSHA website.


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