Lighting for construction work - task, access and emergency lighting
To inform relevant persons of the hazards associated with inadequate lighting for construction work and their role as obligation holders on this issue.
Poor lighting levels and/or the lack of emergency lighting and illuminated signage in times of power failure or in emergency situations can lead to serious workplace incidents which may affect workers and others on construction sites.
The following workplace issues may be considered non-compliant with the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 and the Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2008 :
- inadequate task lighting
- inadequate access and stair lighting
- inadequate emergency lighting.
The objective and purpose of a lighting system should be considered at the design and installation phases. This is especially significant for workplaces where construction work is performed as the lighting system must be able to accommodate changes in work activities and the progression of construction.
The lighting system should ensure the safety of people to the extent that the lighting makes hazards visible. The facilitation of visible tasks and the creation of an appropriately illuminated environment must also be considered.
The lighting system should, therefore, be designed and installed, so as to reveal the task and provide a safe and comfortable visual environment.
The following provisions of the Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2008 address lighting for construction work and should be applied by principal contractors and employers or self-employed persons:
Task lighting enables workers to see clearly so they are more likely to carry out work tasks in a safe way.
Part 20 Safe housekeeping practices for construction work, section 277 of the Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2008 details the safe housekeeping practices for a principal contractor which includes establishing and maintaining an orderly workplace environment to prevent or minimise a person's exposure to risk that may result because of hazards at the workplace. This means that principal contractors are required to monitor the use of task lighting on their sites.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's Plant Code of Practice 2005 provides practical advice on ways to manage exposure to risks related to the safe use of plant. As plant is widely used for construction work this code of practice has application. The Plant Code of Practice 2005 refers to AS1680.1:1990 – Interior lighting Part 1: General principles and recommendations, as guidance which should be applied by obligation holders.
Australian / New Zealand Standard 1680.2.4:1997 Interior lighting, Part 2.4: Industrial tasks and processes, gives specific advice in relation to minimum interior lighting levels. Table E1, part 5 – Building Construction Sites (Interior), states 160 lux for general work areas, this level should be considered as a minimum value when designing a lighting system.
Access and stair lighting
Access and stair lighting is necessary so workers can see clearly to move around the workplace in a safe manner.
Part 20 Safe housekeeping practices for construction work, section 277 of the Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2008 details the safe housekeeping practices for a principal contractor and section 303 for employers and self-employed persons. These sections require obligation holders to ensure safe and clear access to and from the workplace and for anyone working or about to work. Access ways and exits must be clearly visible to discharge obligations under sections 277 and 303 of the Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2008.
Australian / New Zealand Standard 1680.2.4:1997 Interior lighting, Part 2.4: Industrial tasks and processes, gives specific advice in relation to minimum interior lighting levels. Table E1, part 5 – Building Construction Sites (Interior), states 40 lux for walkways and access areas, this level should be considered as a minimum value when designing a lighting system.
Guidance on the standard of access, general and task specific lighting may be gained by referring to:
- AS/NZS 1680.0:2009 – Interior lighting, Part 0: Safe movement
- AS/NZS 1680.2.4:1997 – Industrial tasks and processes (specific attention should be given to Table E1 section 5).
Emergency lighting is important to assist workers to exit the workplace in an emergency situation.
Part 20 Construction Work, construction safety plans, section 263(n) the emergency procedures for the construction work; requires the principal contractor to plan for emergency situations which includes emergency and evacuation lighting and signage.
Australian/New Zealand Standard 3012:2010, Electrical installation – Construction and demolition sites, requires battery- powered lighting to be sufficient for workers to safely exit the site if there is a loss of power and insufficient natural lighting.
Emergency evacuation signage may be integrated in an existing emergency lighting system providing that system of lighting incorporates battery back up light fittings capable of illuminating the exit signage and providing clear direction on the safe means of egress from the workplace in the event of power failure.
Australian Standard 2293.1 – 2005, Emergency escape lighting and exit signs for buildings, Part 1; System design, installation and operation, allows for an internally illuminated exit sign to perform roles of illuminated emergency exit signage and emergency escape luminaire provided that it meets the requirements of both purposes as set out in the standard.
Emergency escape luminaries should be located within 2 metres of the approach side of each doorway requiring an exit sign and located to emphasis potential hazards to people exiting the workplace.
Guidance on the standard of emergency lighting and exit signage may be gained by referring to:
- AS2293.1-2005 Emergency escape lighting and exit sign for buildings – System design, installation and operation
- AS/NZS 2293.3:2005 – Emergency escape lighting and exit signs for buildings.
Where natural light is present the workplace should be assessed to ensure sufficient lighting for:
- safe access to and from the workplace
- safe performance of tasks
- exiting the workplace in emergency situations (specific attention should be given to the identification, illumination and signage of emergency exits)
- the size and complexity of the workplace, taking into account all of the above.
Further information can be sought from AS/NZS 3012:2010 Electrical installations – Construction and demolition sites (Section 2.7 Lighting and Luminaries) and AS 2293.1 – 2005 Emergency escape lighting and exit signs for buildings Part1: System design, installation and operation (Section 5 Design of Emergency Escape Luminaire Installation).
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland provides this alert to improve public access to occupational health safety information on the issue of adequate lighting for construction work. The information provided in this alert can only assist you in the most general way. Before relying on any of the suggested options outlined in this alert, users should carefully make their own assessment as to the relevance for their purposes.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
Phone: 1300 369 915