In many workplaces, safety is a top priority. Workplace injuries cost businesses billions of dollars a year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, including the cost of severe work-related injuries and illnesses. When a business makes a serious effort to curtail workplace injuries, workers are more productive and companies avoid loss of income related to employee downtime.
One item many employers forget in their attempts to create and maintain a safe workplace is lighting. Yet insufficient lighting can create safety hazards throughout businesses, causing falls and improper equipment operations that can cause serious, even fatal, accidents. For this reason, the phrase “Safety begins with you” could be amended to “Safety begins with light.”
Proper workplace lighting goes beyond wattage, however. Workplace safety relies on the proper type of lighting, which can vary based on the type of work being illuminated. OSHA outlines specific regulations for safe workplace lighting, but the certifications and ratings attached to the outlined recommendations are added onto the sale price. Because this lighting is more expensive, many managers will skimp in this area, causing a potentially dangerous situation.
Improperly certified portable lighting can arc, spark or produce excessive heat that, when presented in certain hazardous environments, can cause a fire or explosion. Failing to ensure lighting is properly certified can result in far more than OSHA fines. When an employer takes a chance on lighting, that employer is also taking a chance with the lives and health of valued workers.
If an employer finds the purchase price of proper lighting breaks the budget, lighting rentals could be an option. Through careful research, however, many employers find the right lighting is readily available at affordable prices. By partnering with an experienced company like WorkSite Lighting LLC, employers can get answers to all their questions on regulations, certifications and application requirements. The experts at WorkSite Lighting can work with a company to determine the perfect lighting to suit that company’s very specific needs.
Many managers make the mistake of choosing vapor-proof lighting, assuming its use in areas that are explosion proof is safe. A residual misconception exists due to past mislabeling of lights as “vapor proof” when really they were simply safe for use in areas where water is found. Often, what is sold on the market as vapor proof does not include the Class and Division Location Label that identifies lighting as explosion proof or safe for use in hazardous areas. Managers also assume vapors, gases and fumes fall into the same safety classifications with OSHA, but this is not true. WorkSite Lighting explains to businesses through consultation and training the suitability of vapor-proof lighting depends on the area in which it is being used.
The difference among the three substances are:
• Vapors exist below their critical temperature. Because of this, vapors can easily be liquefied. Benzene and mercury are vapors.
• Gases have a low density and viscosity, making them able to contract or expand with temperature and pressure. Sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide are examples of gases.
• Fumes are an airborne particulate formed by the evaporation of solid materials. The metal fumes emitted during welding are an example.
OSHA class categories
OSHA organizes lights based on the type of atmosphere in which the light will be located. These areas are catalogued by classes, divisions, groups and T ratings. OSHA classifies these into three different categories:
• Class I — In Class I areas, flammable gases or vapors could be present in amounts that could potentially produce explosive or flammable mixtures. Areas that might fit in the Class I category are refining facilities, petrochemical plants, spray finish areas and utility gas plants. Class I gases are broken into Groups A, B, C and D. Group A is acetylene, which is found in a very small percentage of hazardous worksites. Group B, which also comprises a small amount of hazardous locations, includes substances such as hydrogen.
• Class II — These areas are classified as hazardous because of the presence of combustible dust. Examples of Class II areas are grain elevators, spice grinding plants and areas for packaging and handling pulverized sugar and cocoa. Class II locations include materials classed as Groups C and D, which are much more common and include aluminum and magnesium dusts, charcoal dust, coal, grain dusts, starch, cocoa and more.
• Class III — Ignitable fabrics and flyings fall in the Class III category, including woodworking plants, cotton gins and cottonseed mills. These materials may be easily ignitable, but they are unlikely to be explosive.
OSHA division categories
OSHA divides potentially hazardous areas into divisions that specify how severe the hazard is. Those divisions are:
• Division I — Hazardous conditions may be present during the course of normal operations.
• Division II — Hazardous substances are not normally present but could either be emitted in the event of an equipment failure or build up over time.
All environments are given T ratings, which serve as temperature profiles or profile for that area. OSHA uses these ratings to delineate the point at which the above-mentioned materials are ignitable.
For the most part, no material is immune from becoming explosive if exposed to the right temperature and improper lighting conditions. In 2008, a sugar refinery in Georgia experienced a serious explosion in which 13 human lives were lost. Although sugar might seem to be a completely harmless substance, when exposed to the wrong set of circumstances, it can create a disaster.
Businesses have made a commitment to workers to keep them safe and comfortable. To make sure that happens, employers should choose lighting that has been rated and inspected, maintaining that lighting on a regular basis. This attention to detail is critical to keep personnel safe during their daily work activities.
WorkSite Lighting provides training to companies on choosing the right lighting to keep work teams safe. This training empowers businesses to make well-informed lighting decisions for specific work environments. Once training is complete, a business’ safety teams will be able to choose lighting by making choices that are in compliance with OSHA regulations.
Senior Buyer Kim Clolinger and the JV Industrial team have utilized WorkSite Lighting products for several years through rentals and direct purchase of specialty lighting, including the company’s intrinsically safe, explosion proof and vapor lighting and transformers.
“WorkSite Lighting delivers trusted products recognized for their quality throughout the industry by our company, our clients, other contractors and equipment suppliers,” explained Clolinger. “And their people are wonderful. We can source information from them for specific applications to determine we are getting the right products for the job. They are always knowledgeable and provide us with great products at great prices.
“Hands down, as far as service, product, delivery and people, WorkSite Lighting is the best provider. That is why we use them as a sole source for all of our specialty lighting needs.”
WorkSite Lighting has careful quality control procedures in place. Prior to shipping a light to a customer, the team learns as much as they can about the environment in which it will be used to ensure it is the perfect light for that location.
Mickey Bercegeay, district manager of 24Hr Safety’s Geismar, La., location, has had a long relationship with WorkSite Lighting. He relies on the company for the rental and purchase of lighting products.
“WorkSite Lighting has always been punctual, and anything I have asked of them, they have done,” Bercegeay said. “They are very knowledgeable about lighting for all industrial uses. They even came in as a team and introduced lighting to our new technicians.
“They are also fair on pricing whether I want to resell the equipment, rent it or purchase it and use it as a rental asset. In cases where I rent the equipment out, they are efficient and fair on repair quotes.”
Bercegeay also appreciates that the company offers the latest technology.
“WorkSite Lighting is introducing the new LED lights that burn cleaner, brighter and cooler, which is a big benefit here in the South,” he said. “They have been working with me on the lights and providing equipment for demonstration. Everyone has been interested in the new lighting technology.”
Bercegeay gives the company his highest compliment.
“WorkSite Lighting has been around a long time and that speaks for itself and for them,” he said. “They will do anything for us; we always get their undivided attention.
“WorkSite Lighting does good business. They are always out to serve people and provide a good product.”
The safety of the company’s customers, as well as the employees in their care, is the top priority at WorkSite Lighting.
For more information, visit www.worksitelighting.com or call (888) 926-7850.