How You Can Keep Crews Safe When the Days Get Shorter and the Temperature Drops
It’s no secret that with changing weather come shorter days, and with shorter days comes less light. While your crews could work later in the day in the summer, keeping them on the job site as those jobs creep into the fall means the right preparation.
Without relying on the sun to get through a shift, worksite lighting and shelter become critical elements in keeping worksites safe. Because illuminating your worksite is as important as ever this time of year, let’s break down everything when it comes to worksite lighting.
There are several things to consider when lighting your worksite, like OSHA safety standards, the area you’re lighting, and types of lights the crew needs to do detailed work as they run out of daylight.
OSHA Standards and Lighting Lingo
OSHA measures lighting for worksites and construction spaces by foot-candles in order to protect workers from eye strain and bodily accidents.
A foot-candle is defined as a standard level of light emitted from one candle falling on a one-square-foot area one foot away.
Other measurements you’ll need to know when it comes to lighting a space:
“Lumen output” is the measure of the total amount of visible light (to the human eye) from a lamp or light source. The higher the lumen rating, the “brighter” the lamp will appear.
A photometric chart illustrates the distribution of luminous intensity.
Most pros know OSHA categorizes job and building lighting into three main categories: General, task, and emergency.
General lighting provides adequate illumination into a room so your team can move around comfortably and safely. All job sites require enough general lighting to fill a large space, including construction areas, workspaces, and hallways. The allotted light needed for these types of general lighted spaces is five candle-feet.
On most job sites, general lighting will do the trick during regular daylight hours. Your team will definitely need additional task lighting for specific tasks in order to complete them safely. So, be sure to have plenty of task lights for the crew when they’re working with heavy-duty drills, precision equipment, electrical wiring, and paint.
Most of today’s best wireless tools have on-board LED lights for that very reason. (Need some advice about cordless drills and more? Let us know!)
Lastly, OSHA requires job sites to be equipped with emergency lighting. Before the space is fully wired up, you need to ensure there’s adequate battery-powered lighting that kicks on in case of an outage.
Temporary Lighting Solutions
There are several different types of lighting that can be used to keep your space safely lit before it’s wired.
Light towers are high-powered light sources that illuminate a large area. Using a light tower can be a great way to illuminate your worksite and make sure your workers are safe. Mobile light towers work great when you need to move the light source around to several worksites.
Things to consider with light towers are durability and extension. The type of bulb you’ll use in the light tower is also important. Certain bulbs, like metal halide, can take a longer time to restart.
LEDs have come down in price, which is a good thing for the construction industry. LED lighting uses up to half the electricity of traditional incandescent, fluorescent, or halogen bulbs. They also create far less heat. We still have plenty of warm days into the fall, so those cooler bulbs will be appreciated by your crew!
Also: LEDs aren’t just a more green option. They may do a far better job of brightening up dark workspaces that don’t have access to natural light, or are now dimmer early in the afternoon. Why? LEDs are far closer to natural light temperatures than other types of lighting. By mimicking daylight, LED is not only safer for the environment, but it’s safer for your workers too.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Overall, if you ask yourself these three questions, you’ll be able to figure out the perfect lighting solution for your job site.
- How much light do I need to illuminate the workspace? (Lumen output)
- How many light sources will be required for ideal working conditions throughout the job site? (Photometric chart)
- What kind of additional safety and efficiency features should I be looking for?
Figuring out the answers to these three questions will set you up to make all the right decisions when it comes to lighting your worksite and keeping your workers safe.
Other Considerations for Job Sites This Fall
In the Midwest, weather is always a bit unpredictable, but the fall can bring chillier temperatures and rain-filled weeks. Other equipment to consider includes:
Adequate weather-tight storage for all of your tools and equipment. For example, HOLT Job Site Pods protect tools from rain and theft. For crews completing a lot of custom assembly on site, temporary covers, large work tents, and shelters keep them dry and safe when the weather unexpectedly turns.
You may also need to move your shifts around. Moving our clocks back means it will be sunny earlier in the day.
In general, our last bit of advice is pretty straightforward: Use common sense. Remind your clients most of our crews are stretched thin right now. If the weather interrupts one job, it may have a knock-on effect on the rest of the schedule. Do your best to communicate with your staff, your subs, and your customers. When you’re upfront and transparent, everyone associated with the project is far more likely to extend you the patience and understanding you need to get the job done as soon as you can.
Speaking of getting the job done, HOLT is here to help members of the trade get the right tools at the right time. Contact a HOLT rep today and tell us about what you need.
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