Shining a Light on Liability in Poorly Lit Working Environments
Poor lighting is one of the most common causes of workplace accidents in the United States. Poorly lit working environments create slip, trip, and fall hazards for workers. Individuals who work in these environments can file OSHA complaints and pursue compensation for the injuries they suffer.
The Problem of Poor Illumination
Approximately 85% of situational awareness is determined through our visual perception. When a loading dock, factory floor, construction site, hallway, stairwell, or other area is poorly lit, individuals are deprived of the ability to see potential hazards.
Employers have a duty of care that includes installation of the appropriate types of lighting and bulbs with sufficient wattage to illuminate the working environment. Whether those fixtures are direct, direct-indirect, indirect, or shielded, it is essential that light is properly distributed to create a safe level of illumination.
Slips, trips, and falls are common workplace injuries. In 2016, 24,70 construction workers, 22,040 manufacturing workers, 29,830 retail tradespeople, 23,490 transportation/warehousing workers, 22,090 professional and business service employees, and 43,660 healthcare workers suffered slips, trips, and falls. Many of these falls were the result of poorly lit working environments.
OSHA Illumination Standards
OSHA standard 1926.56 establishes minimum illumination levels for working environments. This is measured in “foot candles,” or the amount of light that falls on a single square foot that is placed one foot away from the candle. In general construction, the worksite must be illuminated by 5 foot candles. This is the same for warehouses, hallways, corridors, indoor areas, and exits. in all industries. Certain environments require stronger illumination. For instance, First-aid stations, hospitals, and office spaces require 30 foot candles, while carpenter shops, workrooms, screening plants require 10 foot candles.
Filing Complaints and Pursuing Claims
Workers can file OSHA complaints against employers who do not sufficiently illuminate the work environment. These complaints can be filed online, over the phone, or via fax and regular mail. Individuals can also pursue claims for employer liability in civil court. Such instances could stem from an employer’s failure to replace damaged/broken light fixtures, failure to install an adequate number of light fixtures, or failure to install bulbs with sufficient wattage.
The legal team at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. can help you file an OSHA complaint or pursue compensation for personal injuries following a work-related accident. Contact us at (303) 447-1144 with questions regarding employer liability and to learn more about your legal options.
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