What are the effects of a lightning strike on structures and supply lines?

What are the effects of a lightning strike on structures and supply lines?

At Aplicaciones Tecnológicas we are experts in the execution of lightning protection studies and projects for structures and buildings. Let’s consider what would happen if these installations did not count on lightning rods?

A Technical Note of Prevention (NTP 1,084) was published by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety in Spain for the prevention of occupational hazards caused by lightning strikes. The Technical Note describes, among other aspects, what are the effects and consequences of lightning strikes on structures and supply lines.  

The risk of a lightning striking against a structure depends on several factors: its height, the number of lightning strikes that fall in the area, if it is surrounded by higher elements or if it is isolated, etc.

If the structure does not have a lightning rod, lightning will normally strike the highest point of the building and look for a way to earth in an uncontrolled way; through antennas, concrete structure, pipes or cables. This current flow can cause breakages, sparks and damage to people and equipment inside. In these cases, the hazard increases when the structure contains toxic, flammable or explosive products, being able to extend the damage beyond the impacted structure.

In addition, when the lightning current is dispersed in the ground, it can cause serious injuries to people and even death due to the step voltage.

As for the electrical and telecommunications supply lines (telephone, television, Internet), as they penetrate the structures from the outside, can actually introduce part of the lightning current into a building, even if it disposes of lightning rods.

Including surge protection devices within the lightning protection system is essential if lines are aerial and are not shielded and can also depend on their length, as the risk of lightning impact effects on people is greater.

Lightning current and overvoltages in lines can affect safety equipment (elevator safety brakes in high-rise buildings, for instance) or provoke sparks in areas with explosion risks.

Therefore, to avoid the consequences of lightning strikes on structures and supply lines, an integral system of protection against lightning is necessary, consisting of lightning rods, conductors and accessories, surge protectors and an adequate earthing system.

For further information on how to protect structures, buildings or supply lines from lightning, you can contact us here