OSHA investigating after lightning strike injured farm workers in Wellington

WELLINGTON, Colo. - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating after a lightning strike injured nine farm workers in Wellington Thursday.

The crew was working on land formerly owned by Grant Family Farms. It is currently owned by Silver Reef Organic Farms, who was leasing it to Full Circle Farm.

Greg Schreiner, owner of Silver Reef Organic Farms, says the workers were harvesting rhubarb for Full Circle Farm when they were injured by the lightning strike.

Two people were critically injured, according to Wellington Fire Chief Gary Green.

"They were unable to move and were semi-conscious," the chief said.

Schreiner says he was in a nearby field with his employees Thursday afternoon, but brought them inside because of the storm.

"We have a 6-mile rule," said Schreiner. "But the storm came on so quick. I'm glad we made the right choice. We felt it was within five or six mile range, so we got out of the field and got the guys out of the field quickly."

But he said lightning is an inherent danger while farming, "It could have just as easily been us."

Schreiner said OSHA was asking questions about safety and who the workers were working for Friday.

"OSHA is at the very early stages of the investigation and it is difficult to say how long it will take, however the law does provide with six months to complete the investigation. If violations of the OSHA standard are found, OSHA can issue citations and those citations accompany a monetary penalty," OSHA spokeswoman Diana Petterson explained in an email.

The Medical Center of the Rockies reports only two of the injured farm workers remain in the hospital. The others were treated and released.

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