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OSHA Standard for Lighting

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific workplace lighting standards. These standards are designed to protect workers from the potential hazards of poor lighting, including eye strain, fatigue, and accidents.


OSHA's standards for lighting are based on the recommendations of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). The IESNA is a professional organization that develops standards for lighting design and installation.

OSHA standard for lighting requires employers to provide adequate lighting in all work areas. Adequate lighting is defined as the illumination that is bright enough to allow workers to see well enough to perform their tasks safely and efficiently.


Lighting Requirements Per OSHA


There are specific OSHA requirements for lighting in different types of workplaces. For example, the agency has different standards for general office lighting, factory lighting, and mining lighting.


In general, OSHA requires employers to maintain a certain level of illumination in all work areas. This level is known as the minimum light intensity, and it is measured in foot-candles. Foot-candles are a unit of measurement that indicates the amount of light falling on a given surface.


OSHA standard for lighting uses foot-candles to measure lighting intensity


Foot-candle - A unit of measure that indicates the intensity of light on a surface. One foot-candle is equivalent to the amount of light cast on a surface by one candle at a distance of one foot.


While foot-candles are not as common as they once were, they are still used in some industries. The modern unit of measure for light intensity is Lux. Lux is a metric unit of measurement that is equal to one lumen per square meter. It is a more accurate way to measure light intensity and is the standard unit of measure used in the lighting industry.


OSHA 1926.56 standard - The specific section of the OSHA code that covers minimum illumination in general areas.


OSHA 1915.82 standard – The section of the OSHA code that covers shipyard lighting standards.


There are specific OSHA requirements for lighting in different types of workplaces. For example, the agency has different standards for general office lighting, factory lighting, and mining lighting.


General office lighting


OSHA requires a minimum of 30 foot-candles of light on work surfaces.


Construction


OSHA requires a minimum of 5 foot-candles of light on work surfaces and 10 foot-candles for general construction plants and shops.


Mining operations


OSHA standard for lighting requires a minimum of 5 foot-candles of light, 10 foot-candles for tunnel and shaft heading

OSHA also has a 1915.82 lighting standard for Occupational Safety and Health Standards for Shipyard Employment.

These are just the general requirements. There may be additional requirements for specific types of workplaces or tasks.


OSHA Compliance Benefits


Following OSHA's standards for lighting can provide several benefits for employers, including:


- Reduced risk of accidents and injuries

- Increased productivity

- Reduced eye strain and fatigue

- Improved morale

- Reduced costs associated with lighting repairs and replacements


In addition to the benefits to workers, complying with OSHA lighting standards can also have a positive impact on an employer's bottom line. Proper lighting can improve productivity by making it easier for employees to see what they are doing. In fact, studies have shown that increasing light levels can lead to significant increases in productivity. In addition, better lighting can also reduce energy costs by reducing the need for artificial lighting.


Office Space Lighting Level Recommendations


There are several specific lighting recommendations provided by OSHA:


  • Glare from lights and windows shouldn't be reflected on the computer screen
  • OSHA standard for lighting suggests that workplaces use a combination of natural and artificial light and that windows be placed so that workers are not exposed to direct sunlight.
  • According to OSHA, task lighting should be used to supplement the general lighting in an office space. Desk lamps or other task lights can help reduce eye strain and fatigue.
  • Rows of lights should be placed parallel to the line of sight.
  • Adjustable light levels are recommended so that workers can perform different tasks and can control the amount of light they are exposed to.


Generalized Workspace Lighting Standards


According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), office workers spend an average of 7.5 hours per day working in front of computer screens. Poor lighting can lead to a number of problems for these workers, including eye strain, headaches, and fatigue.


To ensure that office workers have adequate lighting, OSHA has established generalized workspace lighting standards.

These standards require that:


First aid stations, infirmaries, and office workspaces should be illuminated to a minimum of at least 30fc or 320lux.

Machine shops, carpenter shops, warehouses, and plants should be illuminated to a minimum of at least 10fc or 110lux.


Shipyard drinking, eating areas, showers, and restrooms should be illuminated to a minimum of 10fc or 110lux.

For more information, check the OSHA website.


OSHA Fixture Requirements


OSHA also has specific requirements for the fixtures that are used in workplaces. These requirements are listed in standard 1926.405.


  • Fixtures shouldn't have any live parts exposed to employee contact.
  • Fixture wire parameters should align with environmental conditions, as well as with voltage.
  • Fixtures should be securely mounted.
  • Fixtures must be protected with a cover.
  • Fixtures weighing more than 6 pounds shouldn't be supported by the lampholder's screw shell.


Bottom Line


OSHA has a number of standards for workplace lighting, both general and specific to certain types of workplaces or tasks. These standards provide a number of benefits for employers, including reducing the risk of accidents and injuries, increasing productivity, and reducing costs associated with lighting repairs and replacements. In addition, complying with OSHA lighting standards can also have a positive impact on an employer's bottom line.


Proper lighting can improve productivity by making it easier for employees to see what they are doing. In fact, studies have shown that increasing light levels can lead to significant increases in productivity. In addition, better lighting can also reduce energy costs by reducing the need for artificial lighting. Following these standards can help create a safer and more productive workplace for employees.



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