Osha standards for workplace lighting

Written by larry davis
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Osha standards for workplace lighting
Proper workplace lighting helps prevent accidents and health problems. (Light image by Selenid from Fotolia.com)

Injuries due to poor workplace lighting happen often, and in a variety of work places and situations. Illness such as eye strain and severe headaches are also attributed to poor or wrong lighting. Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed lighting safety standards.

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Measuring Light

It is important to measure the light in a workplace. A light meter measures light intensity in foot-candles, and is used to help determine the needs for lighting in various areas and on various jobs.

A foot candle measurement considers the lumens in the light. For example, a light meter would show that it takes a 100 watt bulb to measure 140 foot candles.

OSHA's Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 29, section 1926.56, contains a chart that helps interpret foot candle power to the power of artificial light.

Determining Lighting Needs

Employers or persons planning a work area takes several factors into consideration. These include the nature of the work, work environment, daytime and nighttime lighting needs, and glare or reflections due to other lights or outdoor light.

Hazardous situations are also considered. The workplace is evaluated for hazards and risks to determine where extra lighting is needed to prevent accidents.

General Workplace Lighting

General lighting will be determined by the building or space employees will work in. Ceiling lighting might be what is needed. However, some areas may need more illumination than others, because of the lack of windows or outside light sources.

General lighting in a workplace will also include access lighting in stairways, hallways or small unlighted rooms. General lighting should provide the needed light to allow workers to move around the entire workplace in a safe manner.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is a more concentrated light to help workers perform their jobs safely, and without eye strain or glare. Task lighting may be needed for a worker who sits at a desk, works at a machine or works in a smaller room without natural or other sources of light.

Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting is mandatory, according to OSHA Standards and will also be checked in an inspection by a fire marshal. Emergency lights help workers exit the workplace in an emergency.

Emergency lights are needed in work areas, in hallways and stairwells. These lights will come on when the power goes out, and also when a fire alarm is activated.

Exits should also have lighted exit signs and emergency lighting to provide safe exit from a building or other workplace in an emergency.

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