Understanding Australian Lightning Protection Standards

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Lightning is a natural phenomenon that can be both awe-inspiring and dangerous. It can result in fires, building damage, and poses a significant risk to living beings.

How Does Lightning Affect Different Industries?

Whilst lightning can be dangerous for everyone, some industries such as mining are particularly vulnerable to the threat of lightning due to their location and type of works.

Mining operations often involve working in remote and open areas. Many major mines are situated along the northern parts of Australia stretching from the Kimberley region in Western Australia across the Top End of the Northern Territory and into Queensland which is also known as “Lightning Alley”. Equipment and workers at remote sites are more exposed to lightning due to open spaces and remote locations. This can pose risks to their safety, disrupt mining operations, and damage machinery and infrastructure.

Companies within the aviation, construction and industrial sectors can also be affected by lightning with potential damage to their people and assets when there is lightning in the more urban areas. These sites have invaluable equipment which are used in the day-to-day operations, and for companies within the construction industry, many jobs can not risk the potential threat of downtime due to damaged equipment, machinery or materials. Whilst industrial shelter needs, tend to gear more towards storage space, protecting materials is just as important. If there  are materials that are susceptible to lightning damage, keeping them protected can reduce the risk of companies losing materials due to damage.

Protecting people and assets and reducing downtime is every companies priority. Hence, increasing the protection from natural weather conditions can be beneficial to the company.

 
 

Lightning Protection With Fabric Dome Shelters

In the open outdoors and exposed is the most dangerous position to be in a storm, especially if there is lightning. Fabric shelters provide safe areas and protection from lightning, offering an alternative when finding a permanent structure isn’t possible.

Steel frames help conduct lightning safely to the ground. This reduces the risk of damage to buildings and improves overall safety, although some mine sites require specific earth bonding cables. In this case, lightning rods are connected to a conductive cable which is extended to the ground and provides a direct path for the lightning current to dissipate safely into the earth.

Whilst there is nothing that offers 100% protection from lightning, fabric dome shelters can mitigate the risks associated with lightning by:

  1. Indirect Protection: Fabric dome shelters can provide indirect protection by offering a covered space. A sheltered area lowers the risks of direct exposure to lightning strikes and associated hazards, like flying debris or heavy rain
  2. Dissipation of Electrical Charge: The tensioned fabric cover made out of Straatex®️ high density polyethylene fabric is a non-conductive material. Non-conductive materials dissipate electrical charges, reducing the likelihood of the structure attracting lightning strikes.
  3. Grounding/Bonding Considerations: Depending on the site specific design and construction of the fabric dome shelter, grounding or bonding measures may need to be used to provide an additional level of safety. The metal framing maybe connected to a grounding system. This will help redirect any electrical current away from the shelter and into the ground.
 
 

The Risks of Lightning

The risks that lightning pose to industries such as construction and mining are much more than what meets the eye. One of the biggest threats is to people and their safety. Lightning strikes can result in a range of injuries, including burns, neurological damage, cardiac arrest and even death. Other potential risks of lightning is damage to equipment. This can result in costly and lengthy repairs, fires and disruption of services such as transmission lines, power outages etc.

Contact Us

Wondering how you can protect your people and assets from weather conditions such as lightning? Contact our team today to see how a fabric shelter can benefit you, and provide protection.

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