Poor lighting is a factor in many falls at work, this can be caused either by lack of lighting or if the lighting is not properly maintained. Recently the problem of poorly maintained lighting at an Amazon warehouse in Swansea was exposed in the BBC TV programme Panorama which, using undercover cameras, reported that the automatic lighting used in the warehouse was faulty. This meant that areas of the warehouse were in darkness, seriously risking the safety of employees.
Reports of individuals tripping or slipping and injuring themselves because they can’t see properly is alarmingly common and many of these accidents could be avoided with better planning by employers.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, the amount of light required is dependent on the task being performed and the Executive has set minimum average requirements for the light levels required for workers which can be viewed here. Fluorescent tubes which are typically seen in workplaces generally have a poor reputation for causing glare which leads to headaches in some people. However, when fitted with diffusers these lights are a safe and practical way to light a large area, provided they are well maintained as flickering lights are distracting and could potential cause accidents.
To prepare for the dark evenings make sure you do the following external checks of your workplace lighting:
– Check that any lighting which is set to come on at a certain time switches on early enough to coincide with nightfall to prevent potential hazards.
– Ensure lighting is adequate in areas which would normally be covered by natural lighting such as car parks.
– Pay particular attention to areas such as gates which receive high traffic.
Inside the building, regular maintenance of all lights is recommended, especially in areas where accidents are more likely such as staircases. Ensuring light switches can be easily reached by staff and that they know where the switches are will help avoid accidents first thing in a morning before it is light.
In an office environment, provided the lighting is adequate to avoid slips or trips, the effects of poor lighting tend to be long term and manifest themselves as migraines, eye strain and headaches. Although these conditions are unlikely to result in a compensation claim, they are likely to dampen the morale and motivation of staff. In an industrial environment, poor lighting can be disastrous. For example, in 2008, Harris Transport employee Lee McMahon was left with permanent disabilities after being run over by a forklift truck in a dark transport year. Harris Transport were found liable and racked up costs of £42,000 in fines and compensation.
Maintaining suitable lighting in a business is a straightforward way to keep employees safe and avoid accidents in the workplace, especially in winter.