How Good Lighting Improves Worksite Quality and Worker Safety

Every building project needs to be carefully planned. That includes lighting. Many of our clients work with us to install lighting systems that both save money and reduce electrical consumption. We often bring up safety in those same discussions and, as crazy as it sounds, many of our clients fail to see the connection between lighting and safety.

Please allow us to illuminate you (pun intended!) on how much lighting and lighting systems impact the overall safety and security of your workplace.

What Does OSHA Have to Say?

Let’s kick off this discussion with what you have to do. Per OSHA, when it comes to lighting safety, lighting has to protect employees from eye strain and bodily accidents. OSHA breaks down lighting into three general categories:

  • General 
  • Task 
  • Emergency 
How Lighting is Measured

Lighting for work spaces and construction spaces is measured by foot-candles (measured with a light meter). 

General Lighting

General lighting refers to the types of lights that fill a large room, usually overhead lighting. It’s specifically defined as lighting that allows people to move around safely and comfortably. The general lighting required in construction areas, workspaces (including warehouses), hallways, or corridors is five candle-feet. 

Offices require a minimum of 30 candle-feet. Plants, machine shops, or basically any rooms with heavy equipment require 10 candle-feet. 

If you want to see how OSHA defines general lighting, you can do that here

Task Lighting 

Task lighting is precisely what it sounds like, lighting that helps you perform a specific task more accurately and safely. In most offices, general lighting is adequate. But if you’ve got employees working with heavy-duty drills, precision equipment, electrical wiring, paint, etc., you’ll need lamps and lights that help them focus on that area. 

Imagine how much light you’d need to thread a needle, for example, and how that could impact the general safety and experience of your work staff. 

Emergency Lighting

Every workspace and commercial space (apartment buildings with lobbies, elevators, and common walkways) requires emergency lighting. This means battery-powered lights that kick on when either a localized event like a fire brings down the power of your facility, or an event like a storm takes down the power grid. Hallways and corridors require five candle-feet of emergency illumination.

Your emergency lighting usually requires fully-charged batteries and regular safety inspections. Depending upon your industry, you may also need to provide employees with portable lighting, like lanterns and flashlights, that are approved for hazardous conditions. 

Other Areas that Need Adequate Lighting

OSHA spells out all of this, as does any permitting office for a new building project. But there are several other rooms and areas that need adequate lighting for safety:

  • Restrooms
  • Storage closets
  • Exits
  • Showers
  • Break areas for eating and drinking
  • Underground work areas (pumping stations, vaults, shafts, tunnels)

All lighting has to be recessed and contained. Also, since it’s no longer the late 19th or early 20th century, you can’t use any open-flame devices for lighting. 

When is it Time to Change Your Lighting?

Your building’s lighting plot was likely designed as it was being built. That by no means makes it permanent, especially if the building’s usage has changed. Let’s say that you’re converting a warehouse into a restaurant. What if you’re doing a residential conversion or a remodel? There are so many scenarios that could trigger a new lighting design, it’s impossible to list them all. 

When it comes to safety, however, there are two big signs that could tell you it’s time for a change. One is accidents, and the other is a big electrical bill.

Today’s energy-efficient lighting has come a long way. LEDs can save facilities hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year. Plus, those lamps are a lot cooler so they cut down on AC use in closed stairwells and hallways. 

It’s not every day that a poorly lit area is the cause of a workspace injury, but it happens. So it’s up to you to act before someone gets hurt. Working with a specialist who can advise you on creative and sustainable safety lighting solutions is a great place to start. 

Construction and Job Site Lighting

How do you keep a workspace safely lit before it’s wired? Temporary LED work site lights both keep the internal temperatures down and keep everyone working safely. There are dozens of options today for cordless, rechargeable LEDs that keep the entire crew safe until the project’s done.

Not sure where to start? Ask our team. We’ve introduced many lighting solutions that will keep crews productive and safe throughout the project. 

Ask More Questions

Whether you’re in the design phase of a brand-new build or are doing some retrofitting, the planning stage is the best time to ask questions about what will be required for your lighting systems. 

  • Can everyone on staff see what they’re doing?
  • Is it too bright (which can cause glares and even headaches)?
  • Is there not enough or too much contrast?
  • Do you have some hot and cold areas where there is both too much or not enough light?
  • Did you pay enough attention to accident-prone areas like stairs and hallways?
  • Have you considered energy efficiency well enough?
  • Are your task or direct lights making shadows a problem?
Ask us for Help.

The experts at HOLT have done our fair share of lighting specs and designs. No matter what you’re working on, we’ll make sure your lighting fixtures are placed properly for any situation. Contact your HOLT rep today for a quote, a chat, or whatever else we can do to (okay one more!)…wait for it…brighten your day.

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