“Safety in the workplace.”

It’s a mantra that every business should follow, particularly in  industrial settings. Worker safety must be a priority for every safety  manager and maintenance manager.

In fact, it’s more than a priority. In many countries, it’s a  directive and compliance issue. In the United States, industries are  regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Many sections of 29 CFR 1910 cover the handling of workplace hazards.

The Canadian equivalent, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has similar information about Canadian regulations for the control of workers’ safety in industrial environments.

Safe Work Australia is an Australian government statutory body established to develop national policy relating to work health and safety.

Studies have shown that the leading cause of accidents and injuries  in the workplace is human error, with 80 percent of workplace accidents  ultimately caused by the worker.

Can anything be done to lessen the risks?

Hazard control methods — 4 approaches

According to the Canadian OSH fact sheet, there are four main ways to control a hazard:

  • Elimination of the hazard by removing or substituting the hazard.
  • Engineering controls, including redesigns or modifications.
  • Administrative controls that control the way work is done.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worn by individuals.

Of the four, administrative controls and PPE are very common forms of  hazard control, particularly in already established plants and  factories. While they are effective in most cases, there are still  issues.

For instance, even the best-formulated administrative standard operating procedures ultimately rely on worker cooperation.

PPE control measures, while effective, can often present new  potential hazards as well. For example, performing lighting maintenance  in elevated locations requires the use of fall arrest equipment such as  harnesses, lanyards and certified tie-off points.

Even though this equipment will keep the worker from falling to the  ground, there are additional considerations. The ongoing cost of  equipment maintenance, repair and replacement adds to the investment  required for PPE.

The top methods of hazard control

Of the two remaining options, elimination of the hazard is the most  desirable. If the hazard can be removed or a suitable, safe substitute  used, then a safe work environment is achieved.

However, this is not always possible, particularly when using process  chemicals or gases. Other situations — such as lighting requirements  for safety and productivity — often involve light fixtures located in  hard to reach, potentially dangerous locations, involving working at  heights.

All things considered, engineering controls are often the best, if  not the only solution to hazardous tasks and environments. And while  engineering controls implemented at initial construction are best, retrofits allow for hazard abatement in older or already constructed facilities.

The potential hazards of lighting maintenance

Industrial lighting maintenance is far more complex than just  screwing in a light bulb. In many cases, the location of the light  fixture alone presents hazards beyond that of general lighting.

Outdoor pole lighting presents additional challenges. Dust, smoke  film, oil and dirt accumulate on the reflective surfaces of fixtures,  lenses and lamps, requiring regular cleaning to avoid luminaire dirt  depreciation. Damage from adverse weather conditions may require the  replacement of lens and luminaire components.

Work performed on elevated catwalks presents the potential for trips  and falls. Bulb and ballast replacement often require the use of fall  protection restraints and certified tie-off points.

Safety harnesses, carabiners, fixed and retractable lanyards, and  Dee-rings require routine, documented inspections. Since wind gusts are  unpredictable, the maintenance worker must be adequately protected in  every situation. Often a second worker must be present to ensure a safe  work environment is maintained.

In recent years, engineering controls have been developed for safer  and often more convenient lighting maintenance task completion. The  easier and safer a task is to accomplish, the more often it will be  done.

Innovative solutions include options that lower the light fixture to the worker instead of raising the worker to the light fixture.

During your next job safety analysis, evaluate lighting maintenance  tasks for potential hazards. If necessary, develop a plan to manage the  risk of trips, falls and injury. Worker safety is not just a compliance  issue — it’s your responsibility.

The Swivelpole™ lowering pole solution is  recognised globally for providing simple, fast and affordable access to light fixtures and equipment. The innovative access solutions eliminate the risk of working at heights, through the controlled lowering of light fixtures and equipment to a safe and comfortable working position.

Maxis™ is the next generation lowering pole solution for safely accessing light fixtures and equipment.