No matter where you work in construction, the right lighting is key. Light makes the difference between being able to see what you are doing and performing the job safely, or making costly and dangerous mistakes. There is a wide variety of lighting options you can use, from permanent light sources overhead to adjustable task lighting and wearables. Here’s how you can make an educated choice to meet your needs.
OSHA Work Lighting Requirements for Construction
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets requirements for the amount of lighting you have to have a particular space. It is measured in foot-candles. Simply put, you need one lumen per square foot to have one foot-candle. In most areas of the construction site, you’ll be required to have 3-5 foot-candles. This includes warehouses and shafts. For a plant or manufacturing area, you need 10. By comparison, an office or first aid station needs 30 foot-candles.
The average incandescent 60-watt light bulb has 800 lumens. To meet the requirements of a plant that requires 10 foot-candles, you’d need 10 lumens per square foot. For an area that is 1,000 square feet, you’d need 13 regular light bulbs. This might not be sufficient, but it is OSHA’s requirement for that particular kind of work. You can always add more on an as-needed basis.
Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent or LED
The type of bulb you choose depends on a few factors. Incandescent bulbs are getting progressively harder to find, particularly as a result of phasing out by manufacturers. Since halogen is a type of incandescent lighting, you’ve probably noticed that those are much less common as well. You may be able to use incandescent bulbs while you still have them, but find it difficult to replace them. They tend to cost the least to purchase, but they use more energy and burn out faster.
Essentially, you’ve got to pick between compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED). CFL bulbs were one of the first alternatives to incandescent light and they’re still pretty easy to buy. They use less energy and last longer than incandescent, but they pale in comparison to LEDs. LEDs last even longer and don’t present the same kind of hazard in waste disposal, since they don’t contain mercury. Now that LEDs are mainstream, they have significantly dropped in price. And since they use so little energy, they run very well off batteries.
Flexible Lighting Options
Of course, you can use the standard lighting options that you might have in any warehouse. Lighting on the construction site requires flexibility, however. Choosing battery-operated products gives you the ability to run them regardless of the power accessibility on the site, with no cords to trip over. Adjustable task lighting helps you point the light in the precise direction, with the ability to move it at will. For lighting larger spaces, you can consider light towers or balloon lighting to provide better illumination, especially at night.
Nighttime Lighting Considerations
When you’re working at night, especially during the short days of winter, you need to pay close attention to your lighting needs. In this case, you may go much further than OSHA’s minimum, with a variety of lighting options that can be turned on and off as needed. Keep in mind that in dark places, you need to light more than just the work area. Install lighting on the path to and from the work area. Identify possible hazards between your vehicle and your work area and add a light there, as well. Check the batteries and plugs during the day so that you can ensure they will not run out or disconnect and leave you in the dark.
Safe construction work requires proper lighting. Making the right choices can protect your eyesight and make sure that you are able to do the job correctly. To start your construction career, visit CSLS today!