In Case of Lightning, Workers Need to Take Precautions
The National Weather Service (NWS) is advising employers to make sure that their workers know what precautions to take in case of a lightning storm.
Even though the odds of being struck by lightning in a lifetime are just one in 5,000, lightning strikes are a very real danger, especially for workers on outdoor construction sites.
Sixty-two people are killed on average by lightning each year in the U.S., and 16 people have been fatally struck by lightning so far in 2008. In most years, lightning outpaces tornadoes and hurricanes as a cause of deaths, according to the NWS.
The NWS says that while no place is totally safe from lightning, some places are much safer than others. Among its recommendations for workers who are caught in a storm:
- The safest location during lightning activity is a large fully enclosed building with a roof, walls and floor, not a partially open or small structure such as a home being framed, a picnic shelter or shed.
- When inside the building, stay away from showers, sink, tubs and electronic equipment since lightning will usually travel through wiring or plumbing — even plastic pipes with water in them — into the ground.
- The second safest location is an enclosed metal vehicle, car, truck or van, but not a convertible, bicycle or other topless or soft-top vehicle. Construction vehicles must have a closed cockpit to offer any protection.
- If you take shelter in a vehicle, make sure all doors are closed and windows are rolled all the way up, do not touch any metal surfaces and do not use electronic devices such as HAM radios.
- If there are no buildings or vehicles around to provide protection, stay away from tall isolated objects, especially trees. Move out of open fields or clearings, since lightning will often hit the tallest object in a strike area.
Workers on construction sites should stay off of and away from anything tall or high, including rooftops, scaffolding, utility poles, ladders, trees and large equipment such as bulldozers, cranes, backhoes, track loaders and tractors. Workers should also stay away from wet ropes and metal objects such as fences and poles, since they make excellent conductors.
The NWS has information on lightning safety on its Web site, as well as downloadable resources including the PDF, “Lightning Safety on the Job.”
For other information geared towards helping companies improve the safety awareness and practices of their employees, go to the comprehensive set of safety resources NAHB provides through BuilderBooks at: www.builderbooks.com/safety.
For more information on NAHB safety resources, e-mail Kevin Cannon at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8590.
Create a Safer Job Site
Four common hazards cause 90% of the injuries and fatalities on residential construction job sites.
The “Recognizing the Big-Four Safety Hazards for the Home Building Industry” course from The NAHB University of Housing shows how to comply with OSHA regulations and to recognize and minimize those hazards most likely to cause accidents.
The course teaches builders to protect their workers from harm and themselves from liability. This course is also available in Spanish.
To find out where upcoming courses are being held, click here, or call 800-368-5242 x8154 for more information.
Home Builders Institute Offers New Program to Teach Hispanic Adults English
Sed de Saber™-Construction Edition is an easy-to-use, take-home learning tool created exclusively for the construction industry by the Home Builders Institute to improve communication, quality and safety on the job site.
The product, now available at www.seddesaberconstruction.com, uses proven LeapFrog technology to allow workers to listen, record and play back their pronunciation of more than 500 vocabulary words and 340 phrases. Participants who practice 30 minutes each day will complete the program in just four months. Learning at home, on their own time, also eliminates scheduling conflicts.
Sed de Saber™-Construction Edition was developed by a team of subject matter experts assembled through HBI — including superintendents, craft skills experts, remodelers and builders — to ensure that the information is relevant to today’s home building workforce. To address worker safety issues related to the language barrier, HBI created a seventh book based entirely on the NAHB-OSHA Job Site Safety Handbook.
NAHB members can purchase the learning system, all seven books and a skills assessment to chart employee progress for $395 per kit. The non-member price is $495. Order today and empower your workers to learn English at www.seddesaberconstruction.com.