December 2014 - It's Dark Outside

Ah winter, cooler temperatures, shorter days and the desire to hibernate. But what about the shorter days? Are we in compliance with the OSHA regulations? Are we providing adequate illumination on walkways and assigned work areas? Winter just sort of creeps up on us and before we know it, it is getting dark at 4:30 in the afternoon and the sun isn’t coming up until after six in the morning. This is a far cry from getting up in broad daylight at six and having the summer sun set at 8:30 or 9. It can all be very confusing over time, but our main concern is to insure that we have proper illumination whenever it’s needed.

Both 1910 and 1926 have standards that involve lighting and illumination, but neither of them are very specific. There are certainly circumstances where the general duty clause could be invoked if a safe and healthy workplace is not being provided. The construction standards spell out illumination requirements for stairways and walkways, but again, they are vague and only provide minimal requirements. How much light is actually required to safely perform ones duties is going to vary greatly from one job to another. It is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate each work area to insure proper illumination.

It is sometimes mind boggling to see how fast technology is progressing these days. It was only a short time ago that we made choices about white or yellow light from incandescent light bulbs. Then we progressed to curly fry bulbs which operated at a cooler temperature, but had other safety concerns due to their construction. There down side was that they contained mercury vapor and with millions of them in residential use, it created an environmental hazard. Now we are progressing into a new wave of illumination brilliance with the advent of LED technology. LED’s have been around for years, but few ever thought they would provide satisfactory lighting for residential and commercial use. Just within the past three years, this arena has taken off and become the lighting source of choice.

No matter the type of illumination you choose, make sure that it is providing an adequate source of light for work areas, walkways, and security. If you would like to know more about OSHA’s requirements for a safe work environment, contact your nearest SCATS office or check us out on our web site at We offer many classes and other services that can be useful in the workplace.

The Safety Consultation and Training Section (SCATS) helps Nevada employers and employees create and maintain a safe and healthy workplace.  We provide all of our services at no additional cost to Nevada Employers.  SCATS is part of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, Division of Industrial Relations. 

For additional information about SCATS services including consultation and training programs, contact your nearest SCATS office or visit our website at