Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C.

Thunderstorms and lightning can cause severe workplace injuries

The hazards posed by thunderstorms and lightning don't always receive the amount of attention they deserve. It might not be a danger that California workers face every day, but employers must ensure that workers are prepared for unexpected thunderstorms. Employees who are not familiar with the steps to take to avoid lightning could suffer severe workplace injuries.

Although being struck directly is unusual, anyone in an open area can receive a fatal bolt, and if lightning strikes a tall object such as a tree, a side flash can hit a worker seeking shelter under the tree. Many injuries and deaths from lightning bolts are caused by ground strikes that cause the energy to travel along the surface of the ground. Lightning can also be conducted by metal, and another potential, but less common threat is being in the way of a streamer.

Employers whose employees work outdoors, such as landscapers, construction workers, and other occupations,  can protect them by checking weather reports and being prepared. Precautions to take must form part of the safety training, and workers must have safe buildings to provide shelter in the event of a thunderstorm. Losing sight of the risks posed by lighting can have devastating consequences.

Employees who are fortunate enough to have come away from a lightning strike alive but still suffer serious workplace injuries will likely need extensive medical care and may not be able to work for extended periods. They and the families who have lost loved ones in lightning storms while working may can turn to the California workers' compensation insurance system for financial assistance. An experienced workers' comp attorney can help with the benefits claims process.

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