Metal fabrication: Improving safety through lighting

Guidance for employers on how to use lighting, layout and design to reduce or eliminate health and safety risks in the metal fabrication industry.


Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees and independent contractors. This includes providing the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.

Where a risk cannot be eliminated, it must be reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.

Lighting in the workplace

Lighting in the workplace should allow employees and others to move about easily. It should allow them to carry out their work effectively, without adopting awkward postures or straining their eyes to see.

Some tasks may require local lighting in a particular area in addition to general lighting for the workplace or different lighting at different times of the day. For example, employees loading a transport vehicle outdoors will have different lighting requirements when they work at night than they will during the day.

Factors that employers should consider when providing lighting include:

  • the nature of the work activity
  • the nature of hazards and risks in the workplace
  • the work environment
  • the location of tasks (indoor, outdoor)
  • transition of natural light over the day
  • illumination levels, including both natural and artificial light
  • glare
  • contrast
  • reflections

The lighting provided should improve the visual environment and be free from glare including reflective glare, flicker and stroboscopic effect.

well lit metal shed/workplace
Figure 1: Skylights, artificial lights and open doors allow light to enter

Lighting from natural and artificial sources should be provided for employees and contractors to ensure working conditions that are appropriate to the nature of the work, the location of the work and the times at which the work is performed.

Ensure that fixed and portable artificial light sources produce enough light for employees and contractors to perform tasks safely.


Recommended illuminances for various types of tasks, activities or interiors

Natural light sources

Employers should make full use of natural light by allowing light to pass through:

  • windows
  • doorways
  • skylights

Adjustable lighting

To perform tasks more comfortably and safely, employees and contractors may need to adjust the amount of light in their work area.

Employers should provide employees and contractors with task lighting that is adjustable and portable.

Ensure that the placement of lighting does not introduce additional hazards such as:

  • shadowing
  • contrast
  • glare


Employers should maintain the lighting system to ensure that it is in good working order. This includes replacing broken or flickering lighting as soon as possible with the same type of globe or tube. This also includes cleaning windows and skylights regularly, to sustain natural light sources.

Additionally, employers should use bright colours on ceilings and walls that efficiently reflect and diffuse light around the workplace.

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