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Construction lightning strike sends 2 road workers to hospital

Two state-employed construction workers were recently on a bridge during the early morning hours when a bolt of lightning struck nearby. Both employees were injured in the construction site accident and hospitalized.

A work injury is almost always preventable, especially when Kansas workers and employers remain conscious of safety laws and procedures and stay prepared for potentially hazardous situations. Employees exposed to poor weather conditions can be vulnerable to serious injuries or accidents. It's up to employers to take as many precautions as necessary to ensure workers' safety.

The lightning injury victims did not absorb direct hits by lightning. Reports failed to state what injuries the workers received. One worker apparently recovered quickly and was back on the job the same afternoon. The second employee was kept at a medical facility for overnight observation.

A spokesman for the state department of transportation said road maintenance employees were constantly exposed to danger. Employees can be working inches from traffic on fast-flowing highways, operating multiple pieces of equipment or attempting to work on shifting, steep inclines.

The official said that road maintenance duties often placed workers in hazardous situations. Lightning strikes are "hard to predict," he said. But are they?

Lightning strikes are rare events, but tempting fate is ill advised. Questions remain whether or not the workers were aware that a storm was approaching the area. Also, unknown is whether or not the on-site managers responded to the impending poor weather conditions. Would it have been prudent for managers to tell workers to seek temporary shelter from the passing storm? In hindsight to the workers' injuries, the answer would probably be, "yes."

One worker returned to the job on the same day of his injury. Employees who are injured at work are eligible for workers' compensation benefits to cover treatment for immediate injuries and harm that may not be so obvious in the present.

Source:, "Two construction workers recovering after lightning strike," Sandra Olivas and Jeanene Kiesling, July 14, 2012

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