Lightning and Worker Safety Recommendations

Key points

  • People who work outdoors in open spaces, on or near tall objects, or near materials that conduct electricity are at high risk for being struck by lightning.
  • Learn steps you can take to protect yourself from lightning while on the job.

People who work outside are at higher risk

Tractor working through an empty field while there are stormy clouds and lightning in the sky.
Learn steps you can take to protect yourself from lightning while on the job.

People at greatest risk of being struck by lightning are those who work outside or engage in outdoor recreational activities.

The following occupations have the highest risk of lightning strikes:

  • Construction and building maintenance
  • Roofing
  • Farming and field labor
  • Logging
  • Explosives handling or storage
  • Heavy equipment operation
  • Pipefitting or plumbing
  • Telecommunications field repair
  • Power utility field repair
  • Landscaping
  • Airport ground personnel
  • Pool and beach lifeguarding

Take steps to protect yourself

If you work in high-risk occupations, you can take steps to protect yourself from lightning.

Check the forecast.

Know the daily weather forecast so you are prepared and know what weather to expect during the day.

When thunder roars, go indoors!‎

If you hear thunder, even a distant rumble, get to a safe place immediately.

Watch for signs of potential lightning strikes.

  • Pay attention to early weather signs of potential lightning strikes, such as high winds, dark clouds, or distant thunder or lightning.
  • When these occur, don't start any activity that you can't quickly stop.

Follow your company's safety program.

Know your company's lightning safety warning program, if it has one. These programs should include access to a safe location and danger warnings that can be issued in time for everyone to get to the safe location.

Call 911 if someone is struck by lightning‎

If your coworker is struck by lightning, call 911. Immediately begin first aid, if necessary. People who have been struck by lightning DO NOT carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely.

Assess the threat.

  • Although no place outside is safe during a storm, you can minimize your risk by assessing the lightning threat early and taking appropriate actions. For example, if you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
  • Stop what you are doing and seek safety in a building or hard-top vehicle with the windows rolled up. When lightning strikes a hard-top metal vehicle, it goes through the metal frame, through the tires, and into the ground.

Avoid tall structures.

Avoid anything tall or high, including rooftops, scaffolding, utility poles, cell phone towers, ladders, trees, and large equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes, and tractors.

Avoid conductive materials.

Do NOT touch materials or surfaces that conduct electricity, including metal scaffolding, metal equipment, utility lines, water, water pipes, or plumbing.

Stay away from explosives.

If you are in an area with explosives, leave immediately.