A lightning strike can destroy electrical equipment, ignite flammable materials, and pose a serious risk to any worker caught outside during a thunderstorm. In part one of this series, Florida construction attorneys discussed how construction firms can prepare in advance for a storm. Now, we will look at what employers and their employees should do during and after a thunderstorm. Thunderstorms are among the most overlooked hazards that can befall a construction project. Partner with an experienced Florida construction attorney to ensure that your legal rights are never overlooked.
When a Storm Hits
As soon as your workers hear thunder, even distant thunder, they should seek shelter. This shelter should be fully enclosed and feature wiring and plumbing. Sheds, pavilions, tents, and porches are not adequate shelters. If proper shelter is not available, the next best thing would be a hard-topped metal vehicle with the windows up. Corded phones should not be used during a thunderstorm.
Be aware, there simply is no way to guarantee a worker’s safety if they do not seek shelter. If a worker is caught outside during a thunderstorm, they should take care to avoid the following:
- Tall objects
- Open areas
- Puddles and bodies of water
- Metal objects
If someone on your jobsite is struck by lightning, you should contact emergency services immediately. Wait for any risk of injury to pass before assisting. If the individual is unconscious and not breathing properly, use an automated external defibrillator (AED) or administer CPR if an AED is not available. Contact your insurance company and consult with a Florida construction attorney as soon as possible.
After a Storm
Whether taking shelter in a vehicle or enclosed shelter, all workers should remain sheltered for a minimum of 30 minutes after hearing the last crack of thunder. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from rainfall, and construction workers can find themselves the victim of a lightning strike by venturing outdoors prematurely.
As stipulated by the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, an employer must provide their employees “employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Obviously, a lightning strike can cause death or serious physical harm. A construction firm that does not protect their workforce from inclement weather could leave themselves vulnerable to a personal injury lawsuit or an investigation and subsequent fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Consult with a Florida construction attorney at Cotney Construction Law to ensure that you are protected from the aforementioned conflicts.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.