Proper lighting equals a safer workplace, so shed some light on potential hazards.
Construction is an inherently dangerous business. But tasks like navigating stairs while carrying materials, moving across scaffolding and working in confined spaces become even more challenging in dimly lit areas of the building or job site. And highway work is perilous enough without adding the pitfall of poor lighting.
To help keep your workers safe, make sure to shed enough light.
Light it up to according to the law
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established the level of illumination required for most areas of a construction site, including excavations and trenching, warehouses, corridors, offices and means of egress. When in doubt, consult the appropriate standard.
The 411 on temporary lighting
OSHA, along with the National Electrical Code, also sets requirements for the type of temporary lighting that can or can't be used, whether it be string lights affixed to structural members around the job site, freestanding light stands, halide work lights or any other lighting solution.
Here are some of the rules:
- Lightbulbs must be recessed into fixtures or covered with guards to prevent burns and property damage
- Electrical cords must have enough capacity to carry the load
- In general, temporary lighting fixtures can't be hung by their cords
- The electrical system must be grounded
- Crews must use portable lighting in any area where temporary lighting can't be installed or where it doesn't provide adequate illumination
Keeping highway workers out of the dark
It’s an exaggeration to say road workers are standing targets — but they may feel that way at times. Following a few lighting guidelines can help create a safer workplace for them.
Highway construction contractors take on the responsibility of lighting, but it’s a common — and smart — practice for them to subcontract it out to an equipment rental company that specializes in it. Major rental companies often have an in-house team that can quickly design and deliver safe, temporary lighting solutions to any work location.
Since night road work presents a special danger, the general rule of thumb is the brighter the better, so temporary fixtures for these projects are often large scale. These include balloon lights, portable light towers and roadway luminaires, which are similar to traditional telephone poles.
The site superintendent should immediately walk areas where lighting has been installed to make sure the placement allows for maximum visibility but does not create a hazard by being too close to traffic or current construction work.
Shedding light, literally, on potential hazards — now that’s a bright idea.