Hazardous Weather Can Have Serious Outcomes

Truck on freewayWhen you hear the term “hazardous weather,” you may not think of conditions such as rain or fog. But these, along with many other weather conditions, are dangerous and can put employees at serious risk.

Thunder Rolls and Lightning Strikes

You never know when lightning might strike, but there are several warning signs associated with thunderstorms that, by knowing, can help keep your employees safe. While most lightning injuries occur when people are outside, you may be surprised to know that about 2% happen to people talking on the phone indoors. And the old saying “lightning doesn’t strike twice” is not actually true — lightning can, and often does, strike more than once!

Thunderstorm warning signs:

  1. Dark, towering or threatening clouds
  2. Lightning and thunder in the distance
    1. A lightning strike sounds like a loud, short bang when the storm is nearby, and sounds like a long, low, rumble when it’s in the distance.
  3. A sudden drop in temperature

You can estimate your approximate distance from lightning (in miles) by counting the seconds between the flash of lightning and the subsequent sound of thunder, then dividing by five.

Lightning facts and figures:

  • Your chances of being struck by lightning are 1 in 600,000.
  • Most forest fires in the United States are caused by lightning.
  • There are over 1.4 billion lightning flashes worldwide every year; 8.6 million strikes a day; and 100 strikes per second.
  • The average length of a lightning strike is six miles.
  • The temperature of a lightning bolt is 50,000° Fahrenheit or four times the temperature on the sun’s surface.
  • Florida and the Rocky Mountains are the most lightning-prone areas of the United States.
  • About 20% of lightning strike victims die, and 70% have long-term health effects.

Tips for staying safe during a thunderstorm:

If working indoors:

  1. Stay away from windows and doors.
  2. Avoid talking on the telephone or using electronic devices.
  3. Steer clear of plumbing outlets and use surge protectors for all electrical equipment.

If working outdoors:

  1. Take shelter in a nearby building or car as soon as you hear thunder.
  2. If you can’t find immediate shelter, get as low to the ground as possible and avoid metal objects, such as bleachers or fences, and water.
  3. Remove all metal objects in your possession (e.g., jewelry, metal shoe cleats, etc.).
  4. Stay away from trees. Though a tall tree may seem like a sturdy structure to take shelter under, it is actually one of the worst places to hide.

If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 immediately. The person struck does not pose any danger of carrying electric charge unless they are actively being shocked or are still touching power lines.

Weather-related driving risks and hazards:

There are several weather-related conditions that can cause significant risks when you’re driving. Understanding these risks and taking extra precautions when driving in inclement weather can help you avoid unnecessary accidents.

Fog

  • Causes reduced visibility

Ways to reduce risk:

  • Be mindful of speed and space.
  • Use headlights.

Rain

  • Causes road surfaces to become slippery — especially when the rain mixes with oil and dirt on the pavement
  • Creates puddles or pools of water increasing the chance for hydroplaning

Ways to reduce risk:

  • Leave sufficient distance between cars.
  • Slow speed to avoid hydroplaning.

Snow

  • Extremely slippery, regardless if it’s powdery or slushy
  • Causes reduced visibility
  • Snow hypnosis — being mesmerized by rapidly falling snow
  • Snow blindness — e.g., sun glare from snow

Ways to reduce risk:

  • Avoid rapid acceleration, which breaks your traction.
  • Leave increased braking distance between cars.
  • Reduce speed.
  • Wear sunglasses while driving during the day.

Ice

  • Black ice (sheen of ice on pavement) is deceptively slippery.
  • Bridges and overpasses freeze first and are especially dangerous.

Ways to reduce risk:

  • Leave increased braking distance between cars.
  • Reduce speed.

Want to know more?

Accident Fund is committed to providing our policyholders unrivaled WorkSafe Consulting Services and online safety materials, including:

  • Safety-training modules accessible 24/7 for policyholders’ employees
  • Loss-control booklets and other printed materials available to print and order from our website
  • Low-cost safety-training videos from our online library

If you’re an Accident Fund policyholder, log onto our website atwww.accidentfund.com and check out our WorkSafe Toolbox and other available safety tools.

If you’re not a customer, click here to find an Accident Fund agentnear you!