With the change of seasons often comes severe weather. This is the time of year we hear about tornadoes, powerful thunderstorms and sometimes flooding. And as we look ahead to weeks of warmer weather and major changes, it’s important that our workers who are subjected to the elements are ready for what could come their way.
Workers need to prepare for severe and sometimes unpredictable weather. Preparing in advance will help to keep these workers safe so they know what to do when the weather gets nasty and puts them in harm’s way.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that workers have an awareness of the unique hazards brought on by violent storms. Extra protection may be very necessary, which is why OSHA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have combined on a public awareness effort aimed at improving the way people prepare for and respond to severe weather. This information will help businesses and their workers prepare for tornadoes, and to provide information about hazards that workers may face in the aftermath of a tornado.
OSHA has shared the following on preparing for a tornado. Businesses should develop an emergency plan. The plan should include details on suitable places to take shelter, policies to ensure all personnel are accounted for, and procedures for addressing any hazardous materials that are on-site. It is also recommended that individuals develop action plans for their families.
As reported by OSHA, after a tornado has occurred, workers may face significant hazards including the potential for additional storms, downed electric lines, and sharp debris. Workers should also be aware of hazards from heat stress and from equipment used during response/recovery operations, such as portable generators. Workers will need to take special precautions in order to stay safe during response and recovery operations. The Response/Recovery page has more information on these hazards and protections workers should employ.
The National Weather Service reports that lightning kills an average of 51 people in the United States each year. Among construction workers, laborers, machine operators, engineers, roofers, and pipefitters have been struck by lightning most often on the job. According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, your chances of getting hit by lightning are greatest in Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Wyoming. In most places, lightning hits most often in late afternoon in spring and summer, but lightning can hit anyone at anytime. And the old adage that lightning does not hit the same place twice is simply untrue.
Lightning can stop your heart and kill you. It can also cause burns, nervous system damage, and other health problems. Some of these you may not notice until months after a lightning strike.
If you hear thunder and see lightning, don’t wait! Take cover! Lightning hits tall objects, metal, and water... or a person standing on open ground or a roof. Employers should have a plan for what their workers should do in a lightning storm. It should include the following:
Seek shelter in an enclosed building
Get into a vehicle with the windows closed
If you are out in the open and have nowhere to go, it is recommended that you squat down with your feet together and only let your feet touch the ground. Put your hands over your ears (to protect against noise). That way, you are so low the lightning may hit something else. Do not lie flat on the ground. Wait a half-hour after the lightning and thunder stop to return outside.
If someone is hit by lightning, call emergency services (911). A victim does not stay electrified. You can touch him/her right away. If the victim has no pulse, try CPR. If there’s a portable defibrillator, follow the instructions.
Please be safe when you travel in winter weather and keep others safe by sharing this important safety message. Remember Arbill for your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and Safety Training to stay compliant, safe and be most productive. We are here to help with all of your safety needs. Visit us at www.arbill.com.
Please be prepared for severe weather and have a safe day!