Tornado Safety at the Job Site

Date: June 7, 2022

Carrie Kolodji, Sr. Risk Control Analyst

Recommendations to Prepare Your Business and Employees

Tornadoes are the most unpredictable and destructive weather systems on Earth and can occur at any time of day and any time of year. In 2021, there were 1,376 tornadoes and 103 deaths in the United States, compared with 1,082 in 2020 with 76 deaths, according to preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There is no guaranteed safety during a tornado, but you can take steps to prepare your employees. The more prepared a business and its employees are, the higher the chances of survival.

Know the Signs

Workers should pay close attention to the changing weather conditions. Spotting the warning signs early on can help save lives. Look out for:

  • Dark, often greenish clouds – a phenomenon caused by hail
  • Cloud of debris
  • Large hail
  • Roaring noise
  • The ominous funnel cloud – the visible rotating cloud base

If you see any of these signs, take shelter immediately.

Have a Plan

When storms are expected, pay attention to local weather via media reports or apps like FEMA and NOAA. When the weather reports a tornado watch, be prepared as tornadoes are likely to occur in the area. Tornado warnings signify that a tornado is expected. Employees must seek shelter immediately.

Employers should inform employees of tornado watches and warnings via text, emails, intercom, or warning signs. Don't rely on a single source of communication. Test the systems frequently to ensure they are working correctly.

Employers must also ensure employees know where to seek shelter and where to gather after the tornado has passed. We recommend taking shelter in a windowless, enclosed area on the lowest floor level. It is crucial to take a headcount after a tornado to ensure everyone is accounted for.

If outside or traveling, workers should look for shelter well in advance of a storm. Never try to outrun a tornado. Avoid bridges and overpasses. Contrary to what you might think, open areas are safer.

After the Storm

The aftermath of a tornado can be hectic. Use these recommendations to assist with response and recovery.

  • Check for injuries.
  • Provide first aid (if trained) and seek help.
  • Look at apps and other sources for additional emergency weather information.
  • Proceed with caution going through debris.
  • Wear personal protective equipment.
  • Watch for downed power lines.
  • Do not use matches or lighters in case of leaking natural gas.
  • Cooperate with emergency personnel.
  • Mitigate damages. After taking pictures of damage, make temporary repairs to prevent further loss.
  • Save your receipts.

Taking steps to be prepared for a tornado may seem obvious. However, even if one injury is prevented, it's worth it. To learn more on-the-job safety tips, contact your BITCO Risk Control Consultant. Click the button below to find an agent near you.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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