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Is Your Facility Following OSHA Safety Guidelines for Lighting?

Is Your Facility Following OSHA Safety Guidelines for Lighting?

By Vanessa Peng

Lighting is a crucial part of safety in any facility, especially in manufacturing and warehouse spaces. Poor lighting can be extremely hazardous and lead to injuries in the workplace. No one wants to be responsible for the injuries that can occur from operating a forklift or machine under poor lighting conditions. 

Learn more about OSHA lighting standards and what benefits they offer. OSHA lighting standards protect workers’ vision and promote safety on the job by limiting glare and maximizing available light.


What are OSHA requirements for lighting?

OSHA lighting requirements define the maximum amount of illumination necessary for operating most equipment safely.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency that inspects and regulates safety of workplaces, lists minimum lighting requirements in OSHA standard 1926.569(a)

The standard applies to construction areas, ramps, runways, corridors, offices, shops, and storage areas. For all other areas and operations, OSHA says to follow the American National Standard A11.1-1965, R1970, Practice for Industrial Lighting, for recommended values of illumination. The current revision of the American National Standard A11.1-1965 is American National Standards Institute and Illuminating Engineering Society standard, ANSI/IES-RP-7-1991.

The OSHA lighting standards list regulations that employers must abide by. These rules are the minimum illumination requirements. 

  • They require at least five foot-candles of illumination for all general construction areas. 
  • Concrete placement, excavation and waste areas, access ways, active storage areas, loading platforms, refueling, and field maintenance areas are required to have at least three foot-candles of illumination. 
  • Indoor areas, including warehouses, corridors, hallways, and exitways should have at least five foot-candles of illumination. 
  • Tunnels, shafts, and general underground work areas should have five foot-candles of illumination. 
  • General construction plants and shops, such as mechanical equipment rooms, electrical equipment rooms, and carpenter shops should have at least 10 foot-candles of illumination. 
  • Finally, first aid stations, infirmaries, and offices should have at minimum 30 foot-candles.

The OSHA standard 1926.56(a) rules are only minimum workplace illumination requirements, which means employers may adjust lighting levels as necessary for their facility as long as they meet the OSHA standard minimums. Some states do have additional lighting requirements.


What should the lighting levels in a workplace be?

The Illuminating Engineering Society has a set of standard guidelines for particular applications when it comes to safe and adequate illumination levels. The guidelines are outlined in “The Lighting Handbook, 10th edition.”

According to the handbook, a cold storage or warehouse space should have an average of 20 foot-candles in the area. The same goes for an open warehouse or a warehouse with aisles. 

When it comes to office spaces, an open office or private office area should have a light level average of 40 foot-candles. A classroom should also have 40. An automotive showroom or service area is ideally lit with a 50 maintained foot-candle average.

Ensuring that your facility has the proper number of light fixtures and lumen output is crucial. 


What does foot candle mean?

A foot-candle is equal to about 10 lux. Lux measures luminous intensity just like a lumen, but is in the International System of Units (SI), which is the modern form of the metric system. A lux is equal to one lumen per square meter.


How do you calculate lighting requirements?

Reputable lighting retrofit companies, like U.S. Energy Recovery, calculate lighting levels by using a light meter. Our lighting professionals use light meters to calculate foot-candle readings in different areas of your facility. Once we have an idea of where you are currently at, we can design a plan to get you the amount of lighting that is needed for your specific operation.

Large corporations have partnered with us to help implement their lighting strategy, ensuring that all of their facilities are meeting at least their minimum standards. Overall, these corporate lighting standards have really helped improve workplace lighting requirements and overall work environments.

If you need help figuring out what your current light levels are or what they should be, we are backed by decades of experience in the lighting industry. We can guide you so you know the proper lighting needed for your spaces and we’ll let you know if your facility is following lighting standards. Get an audit or start the conversation by reaching out to us: (800) 834-8737. 

Our experienced team is ready to help you custom design your lighting