Lighting-April 2018

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety

April 2018


Lighting in the workplace is often given a low priority. Proper lighting is important because when it is too high or low, or when there is a lack of contrast or too much glare, it makes it difficult to complete a task safely. Good lighting makes tasks easier while poor lighting can lead to mistakes and injuries. The main causes of improper lighting are not enough light when needed, glare, lack of contrast, poor distribution of light, and flicker. Common negative effects include headache and eyestrain, neck, back, and shoulder strain, falling, tripping, slipping, droping materials or tools, and depression.

An important source of information on lighting is the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). They produced Recommended Practice for Lighting Industrial Facilities, which is also an American National Standard Institute standard (ANSI/IESNA RP-7-010). The document provides detailed recommendations for lighting for specific equipment and processes. A condensed version of recommended version recommended lighting levels includes:

Type of Activity Ranges of Illuminations (Lux)**
Public spaces with dark surroundings 20-50
Simple orientation for short temporary visits 50-100
Working spaces where visual tasks are only occasionally performed 100-200
Performance of visual tasks of high contrast or large scale 200-500
Performance of visual tasks of medium contrast or small size 500-1000
Performance of visual tasks of low contrast or very small size 1000-2000
Performance of visual tasks of low contrast and very small size over a prolonged period 2000-5000
Performance of very prolonged and exacting visual tasks 5000-10000

*From: IESNA Lighting Handbook. 9th ed. Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, 2000. p. 10-13.
**Lux is the amount of light emitted while lumen is the amount of light per area.1 lux + 1 lumen /m2. A photometer or light meter can be used to measure the amount of light.
In order to evaluate lighting

  • Conduct a walk-through of the plant to observe the quantity and quality of available light. Consider where lighting levels are too high, where lights are left on unnecessarily, or where factors leading to visual discomfort may inhibit productivity or safety.
  • Take measurements of illumination with a lightmeter and measure at task areas and general overall lighting.
  • Replace burned out bulbs and add fixtures or reposition lighting where needed.
  • Add task lighting to improve visibility and lower energy cost.
  • Paint equipment slightly lighter than the surrounding area to add contrast.
  • Once complete, retake measurements.

In order to keep lighting at its best:

  • Include lighting as part of facility preventative maintenance
  • Train employees on the importance of both general and task lighting and how to report problems.
  • When the arrangement of the facility is changed, include lighting as a component of that change. Follow IESNA standards.
  • Conduct periodic lighting surveys

Although not considered one of the major hazards of the workplace, lack of or improper lighting can lead to serious injury and employee health issues. Management should recognize its importance and integrate good lighting as part of the facility safety program.

For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or visit us at

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

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