Lighting the way: Keeping your workplace safe with proper lighting
Workplace lighting serves a range of purposes that make work easier, safer and more enjoyable. The right lighting makes it easier to be more productive at work, since you won’t have to struggle to see or find the exact right piece of equipment that you need when you need it.
Proper lighting products can create the right atmosphere for work by adding an element of warmth, eliminating glares and incorporating dimmer functions that allow employees to customize lighting. The right lighting is an important component of workplace safety that can be easily overlooked. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, oversees workplace safety as it pertains to lighting. Stay on the right side of OSHA regulations (and give your employees their best chances to be great) by following these rules.
Types of Lighting
· General Lighting: The shape, space and natural lighting of the workplace dictates what type of general lighting you must provide. Workplaces without natural light, for example, need more lighting products than workplaces that have large windows with ample natural light. Expect to provide enough general lighting to illuminate all areas of the workplace. As a general guideline, an office with cathode ray computer monitors should have anywhere from 20 to 50 foot candles of lighting. The same office would need 73 foot candles of light if employees were using LCD monitors.
· Task Lighting: You may provide workers with smaller task lights needed for specific jobs. Desk lighting, for example, falls under the category of task lighting. Ancillary rooms such as storage closets, bathrooms and workplace kitchens may need task lighting as well.
· Emergency Lighting: Emergency lighting, including exit signs, is mandatory per OSHA regulations and regularly inspected by the fire marshal. Work areas, stairwells and hallways need emergency lighting that goes on when the regular lights fail or the fire alarm is activated.
· Exterior Lighting: It is your responsibility to ensure that the exterior of the workplace is lit adequately so that employees can safely find their way to their cars. For outdoor sites, such as construction areas, you’ll need to provide adequate general lighting so employees can do their jobs. This may mean using portable lights, stack lights or tower lights. While these lights may take different forms, your responsibility again is to provide enough light for employees to get their work done safely and effectively.
While natural light is beneficial, the angle of the sun can cause a glare that makes work difficult. Plan to include blinds for all windows that can be raised or lowered (or otherwise closed) to control glare. You may want to orient workstations so that computer monitors are perpendicular to any potential glare. This reduces on-screen glare that may cause eyestrain over time.
You may want to include dimmers on lights so that employees can adjust the light to their preferred setting.
Make these changes in your workplace to uplift employees’ moods and provide everyone with a safe working environment. Even small cosmetic changes can have a lasting impact by reducing eyestrain and alleviating fatigue that comes from dim environments. You may notice increased productivity from just a few small lighting changes.