Lightning strikes the ground in the UK around 300,000 times a year, putting at risk those who are often outdoors in exposed, unsheltered locations.
Although there is no full-proof protection from lightning, measures can be taken to reduce the risk of getting struck. With this in mind, meteorological equipment specialist Biral is offering its BTD-200 self-contained, standalone lightning warning system so that employers can take precautions to prevent exposure to lightning and ensure their workers’ safety.
Statistics show that 30-60 people are struck by lightning each year in the UK and on average, three (5-10%) of these strikes are fatal. Because of this, workplaces have a duty of care to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their workers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, so if staff are working outdoors in exposed areas a lightning safety plan should be in place.
Many victims of lightning strikes are struck because they do not behave correctly during a storm, or do not have sufficient warning to get to a safe place. Workers should not begin any task they cannot quickly stop when signs of bad of weather are approaching and must follow a lightning safety protocol to vacate open spaces quickly.
The only reliable and consistent way of issuing a lightning warning is with a dedicated lightning detection system. About 90% of thunderstorms are already producing lightning by the time they are within 12 miles (20 km), so a professional, real-time lightning warning system should provide adequate notice of an approaching storm. However, in the case of the remaining 10%, the first flash will occur nearby or overhead – which is the most dangerous. Therefore, it is important not to rely on systems which only detect lightning as it occurs, as these cannot provide any advanced warning of the threat of overhead lightning and its implicit danger.
Ideally, what is required is a reliable thunderstorm detecting system which gives adequate warning time to prepare before the storm moves overhead and one which is also able to warn of the threat posed by potential overhead lighting before it has begun, if the thunderstorm is developing overhead.
For the best chance of getting a thunderstorm threat warning, the detector should be able to alert for both distant lightning and the presence of a strong electric field at a location. This strong electric field is indicative of a lightning threat developing overhead – so potentially a very serious situation and one to take immediate action over.
The BTD-200 lightning warning system from Biral is able to do both. It detects distant lightning up to 22 miles away as well as warning about a developing strong electric field overhead, even if there is no lightning being produced.
The Lightning Works software will then alert the staff and managers to these threats in real time, allowing them to review and manage the situation and to staff to the potential danger. It can also activate warning sounders automatically if required.
The BTD-200 lightning warning system has been developed from proven professional technology currently used worldwide at airports and by national meteorological organisations.