Good warehouse lighting is key to optimum performance in addition to worker health, comfort, and safety. But lighting design in a warehouse can be a real challenge due to the variety of functions performed – from picking and packaging to shipping and receiving, light assembly, and office work. All the different functions may require different lighting levels. In addition to accommodating varied tasks, the lighting levels and visibility required will also depend upon other factors, such as the age of the workers, the type of space (open versus racked), and the light reflecting characteristics of the surfaces (i.e. white walls versus dark walls), sizes of objects handled, and level of detail required. Here’s a look at some basic tenets of warehouse lighting design.
Minimum Lighting Requirements
OSHA standard 1926.56 established minimum lighting requirements in foot-candles (the amount of illumination produced by a candle from 1 foot distance) for a variety of work environments. General construction area lighting, warehouses, corridors, hallways, and exits must be at least 5 fc. The chart below gives lighting levels recommended by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) Lighting Handbook for warehouses depending on the level of activity and the size of the labels.
Specific Visual Tasks
Shipping & Receiving
Because workers in shipping and receiving often read documents, good quality lighting with shielding to reduce glare is required.
Individual workstations may require specific task lighting. In these areas maximize task lighting and minimize ambient or overhead – put light where it’s needed.
Open Storage Areas
In a open storage area where you store bulky items, you’ll want general area lighting with a good balance of both horizontal and vertical lighting.
Your rack storage areas can vary greatly, but If your aisles are like canyons, then you should have lighting that is dedicated to the aisle layout; a luminaire mounted directly above the rack row will not be adequate in these instances.
Loading Dock Areas
General illumination for the dock loading areas typically calls for overhead lighting, but you will likely want supplemental lighting to provide illumination into trailers or containers.
The IESNA Design Guide for Warehouse Lighting DG-2 sets forth the current lighting methods to achieve efficiency and safety in warehouses. The guide should be used alongside the ANSI/IES Recommended Practice for Lighting Industrial Facilities, which recommends the appropriate quantities of light for various tasks along with the quality issues that are also important in providing a comfortable and safe workplace.