Lightning damage is a persistent worry for facility managers and landlords the world over. In the UK alone, there are hundreds of injuries each year as a result of lightning strikes and the resulting electrical surges. According to HSE statistics from 2016/17, there were eight deaths reported due to contact with unstable electrical discharges. It is imperative that all facility managers and landlords meet the legal requirements for lightning protection, to avoid putting employees at risk and the resulting consequences of a failure to do so.
Who is responsible?
According to the Regulations, it is the responsibility of employers, including self-employed persons, employees, operators, managers and landlords to ensure that all systems within a building are of such construction that they prevent, or mitigate as best as is reasonable, danger to any life, from lightning.
What to do to be compliant?
Compliance with the legislation requires, first and foremost, a risk assessment to be carried out on the premises. This assessment must reflect an understanding of lightning and take into account our growing reliance on technology and electronic systems.
Risk Management in five steps
- Identify the risk. Lightning can strike anywhere, causing injury and damage to buildings and equipment.
- Assess both the probability and impact. If thunderstorms occur frequently in your area, then there is a higher probability that a strike will take place. Another question to consider is what is the potential impact of a strike?
- Decide on management options. The higher the frequency of lightning strikes, the more managers must do to manage the risk.
- Act. After determining the risk level, consider the specific steps you would need to take. Policies and procedures, staff training, warning signs, emergency drills, etc. all may be required based upon your analysis.
- Monitor. Ensure the procedures are clear and that all staff fully comply. Test to check that the procedures and/or policies work as required.
Once you have completed a risk assessment, you will then need to install an LPS, or lightning protection service, on the site. These LP systems are also categorized, and the responsible party must ensure that their LPS is on the same grade as their LPL, or lightning protection level. For example, if the threat level is one, the protection level must equal or eclipse level one.
The LPS must be designed with consideration to potential thermal and explosive effects in either an internal or external system. If the latter is chosen, the system must have all three requirements; an air-termination system, a down conductor system and an earth termination system. All systems must exist in accordance with BS EN/IEC 62305 codes.
Penalties for non-compliance
According to RC 35 ‘Protection of buildings against lightning strikes’, a risk control publication, it is not a legal requirement for all buildings and structures to have lightning protection. However, the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 do apply to most businesses. This means that adherence to BS EN/IEC 62305 for the installation of LP systems is compulsory.
Furthermore, according to BS EN/IEC 62305, it is mandatory to have a risk assessment done annually to ensure that all LP systems meet statutory compliance.
It is highly recommended that all responsible persons, as laid out above, carry out regular risk assessments on their structures to ensure a minimal threat to the health and safety of their tenants. Lightning protection systems that do not meet the current standard are extremely dangerous and could lead to serious injury and potential loss of life.
Voltix Services does risk assessments, installation and maintenance of lightning protection systems and condition reports. Voltix Services also provides annual certification to meet the requirements in BS EN/IEC 62305.