Poor lighting is a common cause of serious injuries on construction sites. Fortunately, there are many federal, state, and local regulations that require construction and excavation areas to be properly lit. If your employer or the site owner did not provide enough illumination to the work area, you may be able to file a lawsuit when these injuries occur.
The easiest way for you to determine whether your accident was caused by inadequate lighting, lax maintenance, or another unsafe condition is to contact our construction injury law firm as soon as possible. Our attorneys can investigate on your behalf and discover who should be held liable for your medical costs and wage losses.
New York State Regulations for Illumination on Construction Sites
Under Section 241(6) of NY Labor Law 241, site owners and contractors must comply with any rules made by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor to make construction sites as safe as possible for workers. The Department of Labor has since created Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code, which includes proper lighting protocols.
Under Part 23-1.30, the law requires employers to provide:
- Sufficient illumination for safe working conditions in any area where people may be required to work or pass in construction, demolition, and excavation operations
- Illumination of no less than 10 foot-candles in any area where people may be required to work
- Illumination of no less than 5 foot-candles in any passageway, stairway, landing, or similar area where people are required to pass
A foot-candle is the level of light emitted from a candle falling one foot away on a one-square-foot area. Today, light requirements are commonly measured in lumens, with one lumen per square foot serving as the modern equivalent of one foot-candle.
Local Ordinances Requiring Adequate Lighting
In 2014, the New York City Building Code was amended in relation to construction site lighting. Section 3303.2.3 of the Code added a new section for temporary lighting (3303.2.3.1), which took effect on October 1, 2014. Under the revised Code, construction sites are required to use high-efficacy lamps for temporary lighting with the following minimum efficacies:
- 60 lumens per watt for lamps over 40 watts
- 50 lumens per watt for lamps over 15 watts but less than or equal to 40 watts
- 40 lumens per watt for lamps of 15 watts or less
OSHA Recommendations for Construction Site Lights
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) also provides guidelines for the level of light needed for construction workers to navigate and avoid hazards. Under OSHA Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, Subpart D, Occupational Health and Environmental Controls 1926.56(a), certain areas have minimum illumination intensities while any work is in progress, including:
- General construction area lighting (5 foot-candles)
- General construction areas, concrete placement, excavation and waste areas, access ways, active storage areas, loading platforms, refueling, and field maintenance areas (3 foot-candles)
- Indoor areas including warehouses, corridors, hallways, and exitways (5 foot-candles)
- Tunnels, shafts, and underground work areas (5 foot-candles), except for tunnel and shaft heading during drilling, mucking, and scaling (10 foot-candles). In addition, Bureau of Mines-approved cap lights must be acceptable for use in the tunnel heading.
- General construction plant and shops, batch plants, screening plants, mechanical and electrical equipment rooms, carpenter shops, rigging lofts and active store rooms, mess halls, and indoor toilets and workrooms (10 foot-candles)
- First aid stations, infirmaries, and offices (30 foot-candles)
- All other areas not covered above should be lit according to the American National Standard A11.1-1965, R1970, Practice for Industrial Lighting
Low-Light Conditions Can Result in Lifelong Injuries
The injuries workers suffer as a result of low lighting go much further than a stumble in the dark. For example, an employee may fail to see the edge of a scaffold or a hatch to a lower level, resulting in debilitating or even fatal fall injuries.
If you or someone you love was hurt while working on a New York City work site, we can explain your legal options—and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Learn more about your rights in our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone, or fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today.