Safety in the construction industry

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of United States details in its report on “safety in the construction industry” that precautions should be taken to avoid the danger of lightning to workers. In Great Britain alone, according to issue Nº. 401 of The International Journal of Meteorology, reports for over the past 30 years show work-related activities accounted for 15% of the total of deaths due to electrical discharges.

Considering this percentage, the OSHA states in its report that both employees and their supervisors must identify lightning as a real occupational hazard and take precautions to avoid potential hazards from it. The report also states that emergency action plans should be well identified and include safety protocols against lightning strikes.

According to the OSHA, this protocol must:

– Inform supervisors and workers when thunder, lightning, or any other warning signs of approaching storms are perceived.

  • Indicate how workers would be alerted to the urge of seeking shelter.
  • Identify locations and requirements for thunderstorm shelters.

– Indicate the response times needed for workers to reach shelters safely.

– Determine when outdoor work activities should be interrupted, and when activities can be resumed without danger of lightning strike.

– Consider the time it may take to evacuate clients, and the time needed for workers to reach the shelter.

The report also highlights the importance of posting information on storm safety measures for construction workers in a visible manner.

On the other hand, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adds some important measures such as:

– Stay informed on the daily weather forecast to know what conditions may be present.

– Avoid tall structures, such as roofs, scaffolding, electrical poles, ladders, trees, and heavy machinery such as excavators, cranes…

-Avoid materials that conduct electricity:

Do not touch materials or surfaces that conduct electricity, including metal scaffolding, metal equipment, electrical and telephone wires…

-Stay away from explosives.

At Aplicaciones Tecnológicas we understand that, lightning protection is sometimes tricky in the construction industry. Each construction can present different challenges (number of cranes, size of the construction, location…) and must be studied separately, however there are prevention measures that can and must be applied to avoid damage caused by lightning discharges in every framework.

ATSTORM®, the local expert early warning system for the prevention of electrical storm hazards

Storm detection can, in many cases, be the most effective protection measure in the case of companies with large outdoor work spaces. The ATSTORM® storm detector is an ideal device for the protection of these risks since it allows preventive measures to be taken in advance, thus minimizing the possible effects of lightning.

How the ATSTORM® Lightning Warning System Works

The ATSTORM® Lightning Warning System evaluates the electrostatic and electromagnetic field of the area to be protected. Local monitoring is carried out by means of two types of sensors that assess the risk of thunderstorms:

Electrostatic field monitoring allows to detect the conditions prior to the formation of electrical storms on the place to be protected.

Electromagnetic field monitoring enables the detection of active thunderstorms approaching within a radius of 40 km.

The objective of the system is to identify, as early as possible, the risk of the formation or approach of a thunderstorm on the construction site, allowing timely preventive actions to be taken by those responsible for Occupational Risk Prevention (HSE) on the site.

If your workplace does not have external lightning protection (lightning rods), or preventive measures against electrical storms, you can follow these prevention tips for greater safety.

In Aplicaciones Tecnológicas we have extensive experience in lightning prevention and protection in the construction industry. If you need more information about how to protect your project, please contact us. We will carry out a study based on current regulations and your specific needs.