Lightning strike

A member has reported an incident which occurred while a yard rigger was preparing to lift some pipes from ground level. A sudden lightning strike struck the shore crane’s jib and a flash of lightning found its way onto the shackle, missing the rigger by a few inches. The rigger was holding the nylon web sling at the time. He was not hurt.

It was observed afterwards that there was a burn mark on the web sling. It was believed that most of the lightning’s energy had been transferred to ground through ‘earth’, but apparently some of this energy had gone through the crane sling and onto the shackle.

Fortunately, no injury was sustained and there was no fire. However, it was observed afterwards that there were minor burn marks on the lifting belt the rigger (yellow hat) had been using (see pictures below).

Web sling, with burn mark circled
Web sling, with burn mark circled

The company involved has noted the following indicators of potential lightning in work areas:

  • dark clouds forming overhead and/or inclement weather conditions;
  • thunder or ‘rumbling’ sound as the rain approaches from a distance;
  • lightning flashes in the distance as rain approaches work areas.

The company has noted the following precautions to be taken in the event of these specific potential lightning conditions:

  • avoid standing next to tall structures or working at height;
  • do not stay in open areas;
  • do not use mobile telephones in open areas;
  • take shelter in covered areas or buildings;
  • do not use mobile or berth cranes due to the height of crane booms.

Members should consider the potential risk such weather can pose and the ways in which the risks can be minimised.