How to Work Safely in the Dark on Construction Sites

Written by alexis rohlin
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How to Work Safely in the Dark on Construction Sites
Working at night poses risks to worker safety. (night construction image by Galina Barskaya from

Doing construction work at night increases risk by creating blind spots with lighting and having fatigued workers on the site. However, by establishing and following certain guidelines, accidents can be reduced greatly. Implementing traffic control and having an awareness of what is located at the site, as well as what could turn into potential hazards to workers are ways to reduce the chance of injury. Important aspects of planning include installing proper signs, lighting, and determining traffic patterns both on and off the work site.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • List of equipment
  • Construction site plans
  • Copy of state safety regulations

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  1. 1

    Analyse the construction work site to determine what hazards could potentially arise that could harm employees or the public. Try to plan ahead by taking note of blind spots, tripping or falling hazards and dangerous equipment.

  2. 2

    Find signage for potential hazards that are on the construction site such as wet cement, explosive materials, heavy traffic and falling rocks. Place or mount signs securely on equipment that the company uses. Be sure to mount signs at the site where it is necessary to notify people of a safety hazard.

  3. 3

    Identify key operating functions of equipment that need to be performed by the operator so that everyone remains safe. Some equipment now comes with rear vision video systems or object detection systems that will alert the operator when he is getting close to an object.

  4. 4

    Obtain a copy of your state's lighting standards and regulations for construction sites. Read through it carefully, then make a list of what types of lighting are going to be necessary for the construction site, such as equipment-mounted lights, hard hat lights, lights mounted on poles or cranes, and so on. Be sure to comply with state lighting standards to keep your workers safe and to ensure that your state's Occupational Safety and Health Administration Department doesn't assess any fines for neglecting them.

  5. 5

    Determine traffic patterns by going to the site and watching the adjacent roadways to see where they are the busiest and where they are the slowest. Take notes. Then return to the office and design the work flow of the job site so that workers aren't exposed to traffic when crossing from one part of the job to another.

  6. 6

    Keep workers and equipment separated. Identify the safest places for workers to drive equipment through and put up signs to indicate high traffic areas. This way workers can look out for moving vehicles and equipment.

  7. 7

    Contact the local law enforcement and see if the police department can help keep workers safe on the site by controlling the public traffic on the roadways. If they cannot, be prepared to arrange traffic control on your own so that workers and drivers are kept safe. Every night, determine who is going to be a spotter and inform him where and how the traffic needs to be managed.

  8. 8

    Establish crew safety protocols by planning weekly safety meetings. Make sure that all employees attend. Inform your employees of what they need to wear and how to use it, such as the proper way to wear a hard hat or safety goggles. Give visual examples of the signs that you have placed at the work site and tell them what they mean so they understand how the equipment is marked.

  9. 9

    Teach field superintendents how to recognise if someone comes to work too tired to function well. Exhausted workers will not perform at their best and may even make simple mistakes because they cannot think clearly. Workers who are on the night shift have to be alert and pay attention to what is going on around them.

  10. 10

    Establish a buddy system at the beginning of every night shift before the workers head out to the site. Create teams of two or more workers who look out for each other while on the job.

  11. 11

    Review the safety plan for the work site on a regular basis, either weekly or daily, depending on how much the project changes during construction and how the job itself is going.

Tips and warnings

  • At the meetings discuss how to get enough sleep and how to eat well so that workers can remain alert and in good health. Give crews lights to go on their hard hats so that if they need to repair something or check fluids on machines they can see what they are doing. Use equipment-mounted lights and the work site will be properly lighted, because the lights are always near where the people are working. If done correctly they can light up the area so much that it is almost like working during daylight hours.
  • Use all equipment according to manufacturer's directions. The lighting that is required for construction workers to work at night can cause glare on windshields and dark spots in the site, both of which pose a threat to workers. Working on construction sites at night can lead to accidental injury and in worst-case scenarios, death.

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