The Naples Dailey News reported that since January 1, 2007, 52 people of died from lightning in Florida. This is more than any state in the country. The next closest state for lightning-related deaths is Texas with 21 fatalities during the same period. Just this year, two people have been killed in the United States from lightning strikes, including a Florida construction worker. The 46-year old Fort Pierce resident was injured while working on an empty pool on Jensen Beach last week. He died from his injuries after a lightning accident. Florida’s climate is the perfect combination of elements to develop lightning storms. Last year, over 1.2 million lightning flashes were reported in Florida, again only to Texas which had just over four million flashes. Even though lightning safety education has increased, Florida still has too many deaths and accidents related to lightning strikes. In 2016, nine people were killed in Florida from lightning-related accidents, an increase from the five people killed in 2015. Education is extremely important. Workers must understand the dangers of working outside during Florida thunderstorms. Lightning can develop very quickly and without warning. Below are several safety tips for staying safe this summer from lightning accidents.

Safety Tips for Working Outside During Lightning Storms

According to the National Weather Service, workers need to be aware of the following facts about lightning and follow these rules to reduce the risk of an accident:

    • There is no “safe” place outside during a thunderstorm or when a storm is approaching.
    • If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you even if you cannot see the lightning.
    • Whenever you hear thunder, you should immediately move to safety. A building with plumbing and electricity is best. If a building is not available, a metal-topped vehicle with the windows rolled up is your second choice for safety.
    • Remain in a safe shelter for at least 30 minutes after the thunder has subsided.

If you are outside and you cannot seek safe shelter when you hear thunder, the NWS offers these tips:

    • Never lie flat on the ground and immediately move from elevated areas.
    • Never use a tree as a shelter during a storm or when you hear thunder.
    • Rocky overhangs are not a safe shelter.
    • Immediately move away from any body of water including lakes, ponds, and pools.
    • Keep as far away from objects that can conduct electricity such as power lines, barbed wire fences, etc.

For more information and safety tips, refer to the OSHA Fact Sheet for Lightning Safety When Working Outdoors. It is available online from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Employers Need to Have Policies in Place for Lightning Safety

Your employer should have procedures in place to protect outdoor workers in the event of lightning. Ask your employer for the written policies and always follow safety procedures when working outdoors. If you are injured on the job, you are entitled to receive workers comp benefits. Our Boca Raton workers comp attorneys can help you file for your benefits and appeal denials of benefits. The Broderick Law Firm, P.L. can help you obtain the benefits you deserve. Contact our office today 1-800-333-3903 to speak with an attorney. We represent individuals in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale & Miami, FL.