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Learn about lightning safety to avoid work injury this summer

Lightning pose significant dangers, and outdoor workers in Illinois might be smart to learn the myths and truths about this hazard before June when lightning strikes are frequent occurrences. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says June, July and August are the months in which most lightning strikes occur. Any work injury caused by a lightning strike can have severe consequences.

Workers might not realize that lightning bolts can strike up to 10 miles away from a storm, and any signs of a rain storm in the distance should send workers into safe areas. Taking cover under a tree is dangerous because lightning often strikes trees, cellphone towers, tall buildings containing metal and any other tall objects. Workers should disregard the myth that says lightning never strikes in the same place twice because it is not true.

Contrary to the myth that rubber tires prevent vehicle occupants from lightning bolts, workers are safe inside vehicles though it is the metal frame that conducts electricity away from the occupants. The safest place for workers to be during lightning is inside a building. However, electrical appliances, corded phones, computers, TV cables and wires should not be handled during storms because they can conduct electricity. It is also a good idea to avoid touching metal windows, doors and plumbing.

Understanding the risks can keep most outdoor workers in Illinois safe from a weather-related work injury. However, those who are struck by lightning can rely on the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance program to settle the medical bills and replace a portion of lost wages. An experienced attorney can provide valuable assistance to injured workers or the surviving family members of those who suffered fatal injuries.

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