Railroaders Struck by Lightning in Australia’s Goldfields

November 20, 2017

LightningLightningOn October 15, 11 railroad workers were struck by lightning while working in Western Australia’s goldfields during a severe thunderstorm, but all survived the incident.

Eight of the workers were labor hire contractors and the other three were Arc Infrastructure employees. All were taken to Lenora Hospital, and two of them remained hospitalized the next day while the other five were treated and released.

The Australia Department of Fire and Emergency Services had released a warning about the storm early that afternoon, urging residents of the Goldfields area to find shelter away from trees or power lines and avoid water, according to a Daily Mail report.

Injuries Resulting From Lightning Strikes

Lightning strikes can cause a variety of serious and sometimes long-term injuries, including:

  • Heart and kidney damage
  • Paralysis
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headaches
  • Hearing loss
  • Numbness
  • Burns on the skin

According to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) report, 50 people are killed in lightning strikes every year, and many more sustain permanent disabilities. Those who work outdoors in open spaces, on or near tall objects, or near explosives or conductive materials (metal) have a higher risk for lightning exposure.

OSHA recommends that before outdoor work begins, employers should check the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports at weather.gov and consider postponing work to avoid threatening weather. Many lightning victims find themselves outside during a storm because they did not get to a safe place quickly enough, or because they returned outside too soon after the storm had passed.

To avoid being struck by lightning, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends following the 30/30 rule: If after spotting a flash of lightning, you can’t count to 30 before thunder, go inside a building immediately. Don’t go back outside until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder is heard.

If you’re a railroad employee who has been injured on the job, contact a railroad injury attorney at Murray & Murray online or call 419-624-3000.

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