Construction sites are dangerous places at the best of times but when the artificial lighting systems are insufficient for the environment they can become potentially lethal. Surprisingly though neither the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) nor the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations list any specific construction site lighting regulations. The closest they get is a regulation that states workplace lighting should be ‘suitable and sufficient’ for the working environment and the tasks being performed, but beyond this it is up to the construction site owners to assess the lighting they provide.
So what requirements are necessary to ensure the lighting in and around construction sites is in fact adequate and safe?
At the very least the artificial lighting systems on a construction site need to:
• Give workers and visitors the opportunity to see hazards and risks before they become a danger. They can do this by ensuring an adequate amount of light is emitted in areas of high risk.
• Be suitable for the environment and the tasks being regularly carried out.
• Keep glare, reflected glare, flickering and stroboscopic effects to a minimum. While powerful lighting is helpful in confined places it can do more damage than good if it creates glare or causes workers to suffer with headaches, eye strain and other related conditions.
• Illuminate high risk areas without leaving areas of darkness. In other words, the entire working area needs to receive adequate lighting with equal degrees of brightness.
• Be in a position to be easily maintained and replaced in the event of damage or failure.
• Include emergency lighting sufficient to enable workers to evacuate the site safely.
Most of the points listed above are a matter of common sense however they are also easy to overlook.
Types of artificial lighting that meet construction site lighting requirements
Today there are several types of lighting used on construction sites, including fluorescent strip lighting, natural daylight bulbs and LEDs. Until quite recently most construction sites made good use of the traditional fluorescent and daylight bulbs however the modern construction site is much more likely to employ LED lamps.
The pros of LEDs
LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamps are extremely bright when compared to the more traditional forms of lighting. They are also durable to the point of being virtually indestructible and they offer an average life span up to 50 times that of a normal daylight bulb. These features make them the perfect choice for environments such as a construction site where accidents happen more often than you’d think. What’s more, LED lamps use a lot less energy to run than both traditional bulbs and fluorescent tubes so they have the potential to save money as well.
The drawback to LEDs
The only real drawback to LED lamps is that they are expensive to buy in the first instance. Obviously over time they do save money in terms of energy usage but implementing them throughout a construction site won’t be cheap. This said they do satisfy all of the points on the list of recommended lighting requirements mentioned above and so are well worth investing in for the future.