Turn On the Lights

When conducting loss control inspections, one of the first elements of a business I evaluate is the lighting. My reasoning is not only so I can see where I am going, but also knowing poor or inadequate lighting can lead to accidents. Adequate lighting (interior and exterior) is essential to crime prevention and keeping the premises safe for employees as well as visitors. The laws are clear when it comes to lighting. The owner of the facility, whether it be a business or residence, can be held responsible for failure to provide adequate lighting. In many circumstances, inability to do so is sufficient grounds to support a finding of negligence in the event of a lawsuit. However, many property owners often overlook or ignore this issue.

According to the World Health Organization, falls are the second leading cause of accidental death worldwide. The National Floor Safety Institute notes that falls account for over 8 million hospital visits annually. Falls are also the primary cause of Workers’ Compensation claims in the U.S. and a significant source of liability claims made under business and homeowner policies. Premise lighting (inside and out) allows customers, guests, and any other visitors to literally see where they are going. If a person cannot see it, they are more likely to trip over it, slip in it, or fall into or off it. For example, inadequate parking lot lighting could cause a victim to slip on ice or trip on broken pavement. Burned-out bulbs in hallways can cause victims to trip over obstacles lying on the floor or cause them to miss the stairway.  Lighting illuminates problems to avoid injury.

Inadequate lighting does not cause criminal activity, though it can allow such activities to flourish. Like vampires, criminals like the dark. From a property protection standpoint, thieves will often choose the target of least resistance. A business or home shadowed in darkness is a more attractive target for burglary and crime. Adequate lighting eliminates the veil of darkness increasing the chances of being caught and helping to deter criminals. It also allows visitors to see potential threats and take necessary precautions, thereby increasing security.

The good news is that poor lighting is one of the easiest issues to resolve and manage. First, inspect your business or home with greater attention to the parking lot, outside perimeter, common hallways and footpaths. You should add additional lighting to any dimly lit or dark areas. Replace blown light bulbs. If your premise consumes a large area and has a lot of activity, it is best to consult the lighting guidelines set by an Illumination Engineering Specialist.

After the initial survey, the property will require inspections monthly as bulbs often go out and are damaged.  If ownership or management is not on the property on a regular basis, encourage tenants, employees, or others to report lighting issues. Automatic light fixtures take out the human element of turning lights on and off, but as with any other electric or mechanical devices, they require regular inspections to ensure they are functioning properly.

Ensure your premise has the proper lighting essential to prevent slips, trips, or falls on your property, as well as criminal activity. A premise inspection program should be implemented including a survey of the lighting. Turn on the lights to ensure your business or home is safe for all visitors.

Sources:
World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs344/en/
National Floor Safety Institute

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