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Load shedding is a workplace safety hazard! And YOU might end up paying the price for Eskom's shortcomings

by , 08 July 2015
Sufficient lighting in the workplace is a basic requirement of your health and safety programme. It prevents unsafe working conditions. It's also essential in ensuring that work areas don't pose health hazards to employees. For example, an employee doesn't have to strain his eyes when he works.

But thanks to Eskom, having electricity is more of a luxury these days. This stands in the way of you meeting your health and safety obligations.

You, however, are still obligated to maintain a work environment compliant to health and safety regulations.

Have a look at the lighting requirements of a workplace so you can combat load shedding and meet your health and safety obligations.

What are the lighting requirements you need to comply with? 

Different tasks have different lighting requirements. You can find task specific lighting requirements in Environmental Regulation for Workplaces 3.1, 3.2 and the Schedule. Regardless, you must adhere to these three basic requirements. 
1. The average lux (lighting level) within five meters from the work area must be at least 20% of the required lux. 
2. The glare in your workplace needs to be at a level that doesn't damage your employees' vision. 
3. Keep your lights clean and in working order. If they're defective, replace or repair them immediately.
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Measuring lighting levels in your workplace 

Now that you know what the minimum requirements are, your next move is to conduct a lighting survey.  A lighting survey measures the current lighting levels in your workplace. This will give you the scope of all the lighting needed in your work area. These are the lights you need to find a way to switch back on, when Eskom strikes.  The best solution is to have emergency lighting in place. This will minimise and prevent safety hazards that arise from poor lighting. 

If you run a night shift, emergency lighting is not optional

If you have employees who work at night or in an indoor workplace that doesn't have natural light, you need to have emergency lighting. This lighting system must activate within 15 seconds. Furthermore, it needs to last long enough to ensure safe evacuation of your entire workplace. You need to keep the emergency lighting in good working order and test it at least every three months. 

What are the consequences of non-compliance?

Poor lighting in your workplace, even if it's because of loadshedding, is a safety hazard. It's a sign of non-compliance.  It's punishable by a maximum fine of R1 000 or six months imprisonment. Install an emergency lighting plan so that you don't pay the price for Eskom's sins. 

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