Q1) Are Aluminum Ladders Dangerous In A Lightning Storm?
A1) Aluminum ladders are indeed dangerous to climb during a lightning storm or when working around power lines due to their electrical conductivity. But when working with electric cables or electrical power of any kind (including tools) it’s best to work with a GRP AKA fiber glass ladders if you can. However, if there is lightning in the area and you still need to be working at hight just remember that climbing any ladder can be dangerous given lightning’s propensity to strike taller objects in the area! So if possible work as low as possible, at the end of the day everything’s dangerous in a lightning storm. Standing next to aluminium ladders or even worst on them when there’s thunder all around you is just inviting trouble.
But what if the ladder has rubber feet?
The rubber feet are not enough. The point is that the ladder is aluminum. It’s electrically conductive. The voltage potential between the earth and the ground is trying to equalize itself; anything that makes that easier to do will help close the gap between the earth and the ground. Cars, which sit on rubber tires, get struck all the time. Airplanes, which aren’t touching the ground at all in flight, get struck all the time. They’re very conductive.
Even though the rubber feet of the ladder do indeed insulate it, those feet mean nothing to a bolt of lightning – having already made the jump to create a spark that may be literally hundreds of feet long, do you think such a measly little thing as a rubber foot will prevent the bolt from simply arching back out of the ladder again and into ground that is mere inches away? No. No way.
We wouldn’t get on a ladder of any description in a lightning storm. We don’t go outside in a lightning storm. Anything that helps bridge some of the gap is a candidate for a strike. That includes houses, cattle, boats, YOU, whatever.
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