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Essential safety for working in dark conditions

Trades such as road work and construction often take place in the dark. This can be due to long hours on short days during the winter or because the jobs need to be done at night when there’s little traffic on the roads.

Make sure that you and your co-workers are well-prepared for working in dark conditions by taking extra essential safety precautions.

Dangers of working in the dark

One of the most common reasons for work-related fatal accidents is being struck by a moving vehicle. This is always a hazard with road construction, but the risk is heightened in the dark as visibility is poor for drivers and workers alike.

Slips, trips and falls are other dangers that are common for those working in the dark. It can be hard to see where you’re placing your feet and any potential obstacles, and there is often the risk of being unbalanced by ice in the winter.

Other seasonal risks include being struck by branches and other falling objects in periods of high wind and failing to hear approaching vehicles in bouts of heavy rain.

Ensuring worker safety

There are several simple but effective ways of ensuring the safety of employees who work in the dark:

  1. Lighting

As much as possible, provide lighting to illuminate the area for improved visibility.

This could include individual head and handheld torchers like these from RS and larger portable lamps. When selecting your lights, consider your options for power: if you’ll be working away from an electricity supply, go for battery-powered options with a long lifespan and remember to stock spare batteries.

  1. Personal Protective Equipment

As well as taking steps to improve employee visibility, you must supply workers with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to make them more visible to others. This is especially important in cases where employees are working close to highly dangerous hazards like cars.

Make sure everyone is kitted out in hi-vis clothing for jobs that must be done in the dark or at night. This will ensure visibility from a greater distance, especially under car headlights. This neon reflective fabric has been used in the UK since the 1960s, originally introduced to make railway workers more obvious when they were fixing a line.

  1. Site management

In addition to good lighting and the proper protective gear, site management is vital to minimising the dangers of working in dark environments. Nominate someone to champion safety while on-site, identifying potential hazards and keeping workers in a safe area.

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