New Lighting Requirements for Agriculture Arriving by Next Harvest

Brian GermanIndustry

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is moving quickly on implementing lighting requirements for agricultural operations working at night.  The concept for updating nighttime regulations for lighting dates back to 2014, but the rule has been making progress quickly with only 15 days allowed for public comment. 

lighting requirements

“We can expect to see this before the Standards Board for final approval either end of this calendar year/beginning of 2020, in which case this will be the law of the land,” said AgSafe President and CEO Amy Wolfe.  “Best case scenario, this standard takes effect July 1 of next year, so this is our reality next harvest.”

The lighting requirements define nighttime hours as the time between when the sun sets and when the sun rises.  The new rule lats out three specific rules for agricultural employers to follow: the provision of Class 2, high-visibility garments to employees, ensuring employees are wearing the provided clothing, and the provision of appropriate lighting to be defined by working conditions.  Along with the lighting standard, the proposed rule also requires a particular training session to be performed every time employees are deployed into a field at night.

The rule for lighting requirements calls for a ten footcandle area of lumination when employees are working around equipment.  The requirement also dictates that employees will need to be provided with a personal light source such as a headlamp to ensure conditions meet the lighting threshold in the event they move out of range from the fixed lighting equipment.  Wolfe noted that employers should begin preparing now for the types of equipment they will need to invest in, such as lighting, clothing, and methods for measuring light.

“Employers now have to be able to read light. Just like with the heat standard, we have to have a mechanism to show that we can take temperature,” said Wolfe. “You need to be buying a light meter that’s either made by Davis, Sper, or Extec, because now you’re using the same equipment that Cal/OSHA enforcement will be using.”

Wolfe also noted that the light meters will need to have a range between 50,000 and 400,000 lumens, “with some additional maximum-resolution and basic accuracy parameters.”

Listen to Wolfe’s interview below.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West