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MSB No. 046 Lightning - hazards and safeguards

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Two recent non-mining fatalities caused by atmospheric lightning serve to remind of the likely consequences that this ‘all too familiar’ hazard can present. Both incidents occurred in open spaces, one victim being struck while beach strolling and the other (a jockey) during early morning horse training.

In 1994 a lightning strike at the Milford Haven (UK) Texaco refinery caused a fire and serious plant disturbances that resulted in an explosion, 26 people injured and massive site damage.

While few persons expect to survive a lightning strike, most believe that the likelihood of this occurring to be extremely remote. ‘It will not happen to me’. This is a perception only, and persons need to be aware of certain influences that significantly increase risk, and exercise rudimentary precautions.

Another popular notion is ‘lightning never strikes in the same place twice’. Particular regions of Australia, and specific natural features within those regions, experience inordinately higher activity levels than other places; and a certain well-known professional golfer after suffering the effects of lightning several times now promptly vacates the course at the first sign of a thunderstorm’s approach.

Worldwide, it is estimated that lightning strikes the earth around 6000 times per minute, and within Australia it poses a greater threat to individuals than almost any other natural hazard, accounting for five to ten lives and well over 100 injuries annually.


Department of Minerals and Energy Western Australia

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Relates to Western Australia (WA)

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Western Australia




Government of Western Australia


4 Feb 1999

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