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1-2.022 July 2010

Industrial illumination


Industrial facilities ­ factories, warehouses, loading docks, maintenance shops and so on ­ are often poorly lighted. There are a number of reasons why this might happen. The situation may be due simply to the age of the building and the lighting fixtures. Inadequate maintenance may result in broken fixtures and failed bulbs or ballasts. Changes in occupancy or process may require higher levels of illumination than were needed before. Efforts to reduce energy use and costs sometimes result in changes in lighting that meet those goals but create long-term issues on the factory floor. Poor illumination can be a major contributor to a number of workplace problems, including: · · · · Poor quality ­ in order to produce 'on-specification' material employees must be able to see what they are doing and see defects as they occur Poor productivity ­ as workers strain to see they may be slowed in their work Employee dissatisfaction ­ industrial engineers and psychologists have demonstrated the effect of workplace appearance on worker morale Injuries to workers and visitors

The cost of improved illumination can often be recovered in improvements in yield, quality, productivity and safety performance. According to Zurich research, the average slip, trip and fall injury results in over $21,000 in direct costs. A study of nearly six years of workers compensation claims showed that 22.6% were the result of slips, trips and falls. Many of these injuries may have been avoided had proper lighting been in place. However, illumination is not just lighting. The use of lighter and brighter colors on walls, floors and ceilings and the use of contrasting colors for railings, stairs, and equipment may be all that is needed to 'brighten up' the workplace.

Lighting design

The type of lighting equipment installed should be selected to safely provide the required quality and quantity of illumination for the particular manufacturing processes in operation. Only listed or approved equipment should be used, and it should be installed so that it can be easily and safely maintained. Overall economy, including

amount of energy used, is a major consideration, but should not be allowed to outweigh the need for proper quality and quantity of light on the task. The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) lists a number of factors relating to the quality of illumination. Important among these are: · · · · · · · Color appearance and contrast Glare Flicker and strobe effect Light distribution Glare Shadows Light level on the task plane

Some lighting quality factors take on more importance depending upon the task being performed. For example, in shipping and receiving areas the major consideration is the level of light on the task plane. In parts inspection areas, other issues come into play, such as ability to differentiate colors, glare, flicker and shadows.

Lighting intensity

In their Recommended Practice for Lighting Industrial Facilities (ANSI/IESNA RP-7-01), IESNA places industrial tasks into seven categories. · Categories A, B and C cover simple tasks where minimal quantity of illumination is required, primarily for safety and comfort. Reading and visual tasks such as assembly and inspection would not be done frequently in these areas. Reception areas, break rooms and the like fit into these categories, where illumination levels from 3 to 10 foot-candles (fc) are appropriate. Categories D, E and F include most industrial workplaces. These are the areas where machines are operated, material is handled and parts are assembled. Depending upon the size and contrast of the task, 30 to 100 fc is required. Category G involves special visual tasks such as quality inspection, fine hand stitching and intricate woodcarving. Illumination levels of 300 to 1000 fc may be required on the task. These high levels of lighting are often provided by supplementary light sources close to the work.

· ·

ANSI/IESNA RP-7-01 lists dozens of examples of industrial areas and recommended lighting levels in Annex A2. A few of these include: Industrial control rooms Foundry grinding and chipping Molten metal pouring/teeming Paper box manufacturing Printing ­ press room Printing ­ proofreading Sheet metal bench work Sheet metal scribing Structural metal fabricating Jewelry and watch manufacturing Tire building 30 fc 150 fc 75 fc 75 fc 75 fc 150 fc 75 fc 150 fc 75 fc 300 fc 150 fc


Finally, let the eyes decide. If workers complain that an area is too dark, or if your eyes tell you that illumination is insufficient, it probably is. Refinishing the workplace in light and contrasting colors may make the difference. Perhaps cleaning the existing lamps and fixtures and replacing some lamps and ballasts will be needed. Maybe the addition of some task lighting or an increase in the general illumination level is in order. Whatever the case, do not underestimate the value of proper lighting in the industrial workplace.


ANSI/IESNA RP-7-01. Recommended Practice for Lighting Industrial Facilities. The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, 2001. Risktopic 1-9.004. Environmental factors in the workplace. Zurich Services Corporation, 2008.


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