Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Process: Housekeeping Safety


Areas of Concern – Lighting

Slips, trips and falls, electric shock and burns, or the inability to exit a space are examples of the hazards created or made worse by improper lighting. Well-lit workplaces, whether on vessels, vessels sections, or at landside areas, are essential to prevent such incidents.

Employers must provide adequate lighting for workers to safely walk in walkways and work areas, and while performing their assigned tasks (29 CFR 1915.82(a)(1)). For walkways, accessways, stairs, gangways, and exits aboard vessels or vessel sections, 3 lumens are required, while work areas must have 5 lumens on any vessel or vessel section. In general landside areas, such as walkways, 5 lumens are required, 10 lumens are required for landside work areas (such as workshops, equipment rooms, and outdoor work areas) (29 CFR 1915.82(a)(2)).

The table below outlines the minimum lighting requirements for each area and walkway to allow workers to safely perform their assigned tasks and transit between job sites (29 CFR 1915.82).

Minimum Required Lighting Levels*
Lumens (foot-candles) 3 5 10 30

Areas of Operation

General areas on vessels and vessel sections such as:

  • accessways
  • exits
  • gangways
  • stairs
  • walkways

General landside areas such as:

  • corridors
  • exits
  • stairs
  • walkways

Landside work areas such as:

  • machine shops
  • electrical equipment rooms
  • carpenter shops
  • lofts
  • tool rooms
  • warehouses
  • outdoor work areas

First-aid stations

Landside tunnels, shafts, vaults, pumping stations, and underground work areas


All assigned work areas on any vessel or vessel section

Health and sanitation facilities such as:

  • changing rooms
  • showers
  • sewered toilets
  • eating or drinking areas
  • break areas


*This table does not apply to emergency or portable lights.

Where required lighting levels cannot be achieved from permanent lighting sources, temporary lighting may be used in combination with permanent lighting to achieve the minimum required lighting levels (29 CFR 1915.82(a)(4)). Neither matches nor open-flame devices are permitted for lighting purposes (29 CFR 1915.82(a)(5)).

Temporary Lighting

To adequately protect workers,employers must ensure temporary lighting is:

  • Guarded when bulbs are not completely recessed to prevent workers from coming into contact with a hot bulb (29 CFR 1915.82(a)(5)).
  • Equipped with electrical cords designed with sufficient capacity to safely carry the electric load, protecting workers from electric shock and fire hazards (29 CFR 1915.82(b)(2)).
  • Kept in a safe working condition, maintaining electrical cord connections and insulation that are free from being broken, cracked or otherwise damaged (29 CFR 1915.82(b)(3)).
  • Not suspended unless designed by the manufacturer to be suspended in this way (29 CFR 1915.82(b)(4)). Cords can become frayed or broken if used to suspend lights or lighting stringers when they are not designed to be used in this manner.
  • Protected from possible electrical and fire hazards associated with circuit overloading. Branch circuits must be equipped with overcurrent protection to prevent exceeding the rated current-carrying capacity of the cord (29 CFR 1915.82(b)(5) and (6)).
  • Used with cord splicing only where the insulation on the splice exceeds the capacity of the original insulation (29 CFR 1915.82(b)(7)). This will help prevent worker injury and ignition of combustible materials should a surplus of energy or a "hot spot" occur at the splice junction.
  • Grounded, either through a third wire in the cord or a separate wire, when non-current-carrying metal parts are exposed. Grounding must be done in accord with 29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart S (29 CFR 1915.82(b)(8)).

Some facilities use temporary lighting as a power supply for portable electric tools. In such cases, measures should be taken to ensure that the tools do not overload the circuit, which could activate the over-current protection device (tripping the breaker or blowing the fuse). This would result in the loss of adequate illumination in the area and create unsafe working conditions. In some cases fire, electric shock or electrocution can result if protective measures, such as over-current protection devices, malfunction or are not in place.

Emergency or Portable Lighting

Emergency or portable lights are different from temporary lighting and should not be used to meet the minimum required lighting levels. They are only intended for short-term use, such as evacuating a space, and are prohibited from being used to perform work tasks unless it is in addition to the already existing lighting (29 CFR 1915.82(c)). Examples of emergency or portable lighting may include flashlights, head lamps, glow sticks, and clamp or magnetic portable lights.

Employers must equip workers with emergency or portable lights when:

  • Entering dark areas where permanent or temporary lights are not available.
  • Lighting is not readily accessible or working.
  • The only means of illumination are lighting sources not part of the vessel or vessel section.
  • Natural sunlight provides insufficient illumination.

Explosion-proof, Self-contained Lighting

In any area where the atmosphere contains a concentration of flammable vapors that are at or above 10 percent of the lower explosive limit (LEL), explosion-proof, self-contained temporary and portable lights must be used. All explosion-proof, self-contained temporary and portable lights must be approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory (NRTL) (29 CFR 1915.82(d)).

For more information on safe lighting practices:

OSHA Fact Sheet -- Safe Lighting Practices in the Shipyard Industry

Shipyard Employment eTool -- Lighting

G-20, G-21, G-22

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