June 9-15, 2014: Lightning Awareness Week
In Canada, June 9 through the 15 is Lightning Awareness Week. Why the focus on lighting?
Because according to Environment Canada, each year, lightning kills about 10 Canadians and injures approximately 100 to 150 others.
Workers, especially those who work outside, are at risk of getting hit by lightning. In fact, workers account for 6.3% of all lightning-related deaths and 16% of injuries.
For example, in New Brunswick, eight workers received electric shocks when the steel structure they were working on was hit by lightning.
To protect your workers, give them this basic safety information on what to do if you’re outside when a thunderstorm hits:
- If you can hear thunder, you’re in striking distance of lightning.
- There’s no safe place outside during a thunderstorm—so take shelter, preferably in a building or car (not a convertible, though). Remember: When thunder roars, go indoors.
- If you can’t get inside, stay away from tall objects, such as trees, poles, wires and fences, or anything made of metal, and avoid open water.
- Avoid being the highest point in an open area, such as by holding an umbrella.
- Take shelter in a low lying area but stay alert for flash floods.
- If you’re in a car during lightning, don’t park under tall objects that could topple and don’t get out if there are downed power lines nearby.
If your workers are at risk of getting struck by lightning, the OHS Insider can help you protect them with:
- Lightning facts and fiction
- A video from Environment Canada on lightning safety
- A handout on lightning safety on the job.
You can also use the Canada Lightning Danger Map from Environment Canada to see the areas at greatest risk of being struck by lightning in the next 10 minutes. (This video explains how to use the map.)