Don’t be left in the dark. How much site lighting is enough?

Unseen workers trapped by moving equipment, slips, trips and falls are an everyday hazard in the oil and gas industry. Working at night only increases the danger.

For site support contractors such as C Company Oilfield Services in Williston, S.D., which specializes in hydroexcavation throughout the Bakken, job site illumination is a top concern.

“You can never have enough lighting,” says Seth Church, managing member for C Company. “You have to have stationary lighting put in and also mobile lighting. We have tower lights and head lamps that we provide our guys with.”

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Trips and falls, whether from a patch of ice or unseen cord or hose, become magnified in low light conditions.

“You need to really take time on your pre-trip planning on safety – thinking of those hazards that you do during the daytime but some of them are a lot more relevant at night,” Church says. “I think every accident is preventable. My advice to anybody in the industry is to prepare diligently and don’t skimp on lighting.”

See and be seen is the motto of Illumagear, maker of the Halo Light active illumination system, designed to fit atop a worker’s hard hat. Unlike passive reflective vests that rely on outside sources of illumination, the battery-powered Halo Light enables a worker to be seen in all directions from up to a quarter-mile away.

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“Being seen is first and foremost for everything we do as a company,” says Andrew Royal, president, chief product officer and co-founder of Illumagear. “It’s making sure people get home safe to their families. It’s dangerous work that people are involved in. So being seen is pretty critical to their safety.”

Royal says the challenges of night work include being able to see what you’re doing as well as avoiding hazards that can lead to trips or falls.  

“Unfortunately, those accidents happen too often because of a lack of illumination on the job site,” he says. “Every day two people are dying on job sites in the U.S.”

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Royal says the industry also could benefit from updated safety standards.

“If you look at things like ANSI codes, they still talk in candle power, which really has nothing to do with illumination. Lumens would be a better measurement.” 

OSHA minimum light requirements, standard 1926.56(a), for example, state general construction area lighting, warehouses, corridors, hallways and exits must be at least 5 foot-candles (ftc). General construction areas, concrete placement, evacuation and waste areas, active storage areas, loading platforms, refueling and field maintenance areas must have a minimum of 3 ftc. General construction plants and shops, including indoor restrooms and mess rooms, must be lit to 10 ftc. First-aid stations, infirmaries and offices must be lit to 30 ftc.

Lumens is a measure of how much light a lamp produces in all directions while candlepower is the intensity of light at the center of a spotlight beam when measured in one direction – the amount of illumination produced by one candle at a distance of 1 foot. The two are not directly comparable and their relevance often depends upon application.

If you need a floodlight for close-range work, a product’s lumen rating would be an important consideration, whereas if you require a light for long range search and rescue, security or surveillance, a product’s candle power rating would be more beneficial.

Tools of the trade

To put your workers in the best possible light, here are a few safety products you don’t want to be without:

The IP67 rated Halo Light from Illumagear is a 360-degree personal active safety system (PASS) that attaches to any hard hat. Powered by a rechargeable battery (12 hours on full power), the system produces 276 lumens of light that enables the wearer to be seen up to 1/4 mile away. It also eliminates shadows to fully illuminate job site tasks.  

The L20 light tower and 20-kilowatt generator from Doosan Portable Power provide a single solution to two important needs – power and light.  

The LM-50-5S-TLR-16X400LTL LED, trailer-mounted, fold-over, seven-stage light mast from Larson Electronics features hydraulic ram upright assist, air-powered pneumatic mast and high-output LED light fixtures. The entire assembly is mounted on a 21-foot by 8-foot tandem-axle trailer. The light plant extends to 50 feet and collapses to 13.5 feet. The 16 light heads are wet suitable and produce 52,000 lumens at 400 watts each. 

QLTS solar LED light towers from Atlas Copco Construction Equipment feature manual and automatic photocell-operated lights. Powered by solar AGM batteries, an automatic photocell turns the unit on or off depending on light conditions. If needed, an onboard charging system enables the unit to be plugged into a standard wall receptacle. 

The Equinox line of LED work lamps from ECCO has a polycarbonate lens, aluminum housing and IP67 protection rating. Model EW2102 features Lo-Glo, an illuminated ECCO logo for additional safety as an obstruction marker light. The line also features an amber model for low visibility, such as dust, snow and fog.

The 18-volt, battery-operated line of LED work lights from Metabo Corp. include the ULA flashlight, SLA inspection/work light and the BSA site lamp. The site lamp features 18 LED lights and two intensity settings that produce 1,800 lumens on high and 1,200 on low. When combined with the Ultra-M 5.2 Ah battery, the lamp runs for seven hours. The inspection/work light has six LED lights, fully rotatable aluminum head and hanging hook. The flashlight has a diecast aluminum head, pivoting head and swivel hook. 

ONE Series LED lights from Optronics International are available in single-diode 4-inch round and 6-inch oval stop, tail and turn lamps. The lights meet FMVSS 108 photometric requirements for visibility and safety. 

The 2760 LED headlight from Pelican Products includes high, low, night-vision-friendly red and flashing modes. Available in black, white and translucent red, the light is made from water/weather resistant polymer and pivots to a 45-degree angle. Weighing approximately 3 ounces with three AAA batteries, the light includes a cloth strap and full-time battery life indicator.  

Nightstick multifunctional MT-200 Series Mini-TAC pro flashlights from Bayco Products are 4 to 5.5 inches long and weigh 1.9 to 3.2 ounces. Made of blue anodized aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum, each flashlight (MT-200, MT-210, MT-220, MT-230) has a drop rating of 2 meters and waterproof rating of IPX7. The flashlight body and tail switches provide momentary or constant-on functionality with high, medium or low settings, as well as strobe.

The 4-inch by 4-inch Trilliant Cube LED WhiteLight work lamp from Grote Industries has a polycarbonate lens and light rating of 1,000 lumens. The lamp has a service rating of 50,000 hours and two beam patterns (wide flood and TractorPlus). 

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