Safety Tips Construction Electrical safety Seasonal safety: Fall Seasonal safety: Winter

Stay safe when using portable light strings


Photo: mokee81/iStockphoto

OSHA requires employers to ensure work areas have sufficient lighting. Sometimes that means extra help is needed. “When adequate illumination is not obtainable by permanent lighting sources,” OSHA states in standard 1915.82(a)(4), “temporary lighting may be used as supplementation.”

One solution is portable light strings. These are electric lights connected along a cable, wire or string. The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services has tips on how to use them safely:

  • Before stringing the lights, inspect the wiring and fixtures for damage.
  • Ensure the plug has a ground prong – the third prong on the plug – and test it frequently.
  • Don’t string lights near combustible items. The bulbs can get hot. Even if they’re not in direct contact with the combustible items, “heat can build up slowly until the ignition temperature is reached.”
  • All bulbs should have guards installed. “Not only will this help prevent the bulb from coming in direct contact with a combustible, it can also protect you (or someone else) from coming in contact with the bulb and getting burned.”
  • Need to replace a broken bulb on the string? Put on gloves to protect against cuts, and then disconnect the power from the light string before replacing the bulb.
  • Don’t use an ordinary light string in an area that may contain flammable vapors. “When used within an enclosed or confined space, the space must be certified as ‘Safe for Hot Work’ if a conventional string is used. If the atmosphere is not ‘Safe for Hot Work,’ then ‘explosion-proof’ lights must be used.”

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)