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In Western Australia workers have been killed by lightning, the most recent in 2014 when a backpacker working on a farm at Bruce Rock died after she was struck by lightning. Workers are most at risk working out in the open, on the sea or other waterways or sheltering under trees or other structures.
Workplaces need to have safe procedures and systems of work in place to minimize the risk of injury or harm to employees from hazards associated with an electrical storm.
Recommended precautions to be taken if working outdoors during a thunderstorm include:
- Seek shelter immediately in an enclosed car or substantial building;
- Never shelter under trees because your body is a better conductor of electricity than the tree;
- If boating or engaged in other aquatic activities, head for shore straight away;
- Avoid touching, handling and proximity to any metallic objects that may become part of the discharge path, for example towers, the metal parts of vehicles or mobile plant, power lines, pipes and rails;
- Do not handle fishing rods, umbrellas, golf clubs or any other metal objects and stay clear of sheet metal, wire fences, clotheslines and so on; and
- If caught in the open, crouch down with your feet together. Do not lie down – the idea is to be as low as possible, but with minimal contact with the ground.
In addition, using wired electrical equipment, hand-held tools, appliances or landline telephones should also be avoided during thunderstorms.
- Severe thunderstorm safety tips - Bureau of Meteorology
- Weather - Lightning - Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- Tyre safety for earth-moving machinery on Western Australian mining operations Department of Mines and Petroleum
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