Today's Temporary Construction Site Lighting Is the Most Rugged, Safe Ever

In days of yore, temporary construction site lighting might have consisted of some lengths of strung wire and dangling pigtails here and there, perhaps supported by nails. That type of installation—fraught with risk of electrical shock from frayed or broken wires—won’t pass muster anymore. In 2001, not only are temporary lighting strings inherently more durable and specially configured for safe, stress-free hanging, but they are also easier to install, maintain, take down, and store for use on another project. Most products are built to withstand the hard knocks, stresses, and strains that could come from contact with the various trades who really don’t care about the health of your lights. Typically, today’s stringers feature sockets situated 10 feet on center along a length of cable and attached plastic cages that, without the use of tools, snap open for bulb replacement, and snap off for easy cage replacement. Each socket, characteristically, comes with an integrated eyelet that facilitates suspending the fixture and, therefore, supporting the cable at proper intervals. Article 305 of the 1999 National Electrical Code (NEC) directly addresses support required for temporary wiring at construction sites and dictates that “cable assemblies and flexible cord shall be supported in place at intervals that insure there will be protection from physical damage.” Manufacturers make temporary lighting stringers that conform to one or more of the following: UL Listing (UL Standard 1088, temporary lighting strings), OSHA, regulations 1910 and 1926, and the NEC, article 305. According to OSHA Lighting Requirements (1915.92), temporary lights are required to have guards to prevent accidental contact with the bulb (unless the bulb is deeply recessed) and heavy-duty electric cords with safe connections and insulation. OSHA Standard 1926.405 precludes suspending temporary lights by their cords, unless those cords and lights are designed for that means of suspension. OSHA regulations also command that cords be kept out of any walking-working area or other location where they are exposed to potential damage. To further conform to OSHA, temporary lights must have exposed noncurrent-carrying metal parts properly grounded and temporary lighting stringers or streamers arranged to avoid overloading. Each branch circuit is required to have overcurrent protection of a capacity that does not exceed that of the cord used. Products below are representative and not inclusive of all manufacturer offerings. McGill String-O-Lights family of temporary lighting systems, all of which are UL-Listed, includes a molded cable version with a PVC hanger that surrounds the socket and cable and a commercial duty, Flat-Wire version, that meets OSHA and NEC requirements and features an enclosed conductor that resists impact, oil and abrasion. The impact resistant plastic safety yellow cages accommodate up to 200-watt lamps. Designed for hard usage, Bergen Industries GL-100 molded temporary lighting units, which are UL listed, NEC approved and OSHA compliant, feature molded cord, high-impact yellow plastic cages, socket shells made from copper and covered with injected plastic, and two-way eyelets on top of the sockets, suitable for running guide wires. Daniel Woodhead Safety-Yellow stringlights are designed to withstand heat from non-standard (aftermarket) hot service lamps. The UL-Listed, NEC-compliant, and OSHA-compliant product, features a round heavy-duty cable and a socket with stress-relief ridges designed to prevent the jacket from pulling away from the socket and exposing the conductors. Basket options include yellow plastic, clear polycarbonate (for protection of the lamp against particulate buildup and impact), or grounded metal lamp guards, which offer some crush protection and are suitable for areas where there is a risk of the fixture getting hit, noted the company. Ericson Safety Electrical Specialties Construct-O-Lite 2-Wire Light-Duty Molded Stringlights, featuring a jacketed cable and fully threaded screwshell to ensure proper contact, are designed for applications that require rapid set-up/tear/down. UL listed and OSHA and NEC compliant, the stringers are available in 50-foot and 100-foot lengths, with customized spacing if desired. Engineered Products Company Deluxe CordLights, with heavy-duty nonmetallic bulb cages, heavy-duty round cord, and weather-resistant lamp sockets, are suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Impervious to dust, dirt, chemical vapors, salt spray, and other corrosive elements, the fixtures, which are rated for 150-watt bulbs, meet UL, NEC, and OSHA standards. Well-suited to abusive indoor and outdoor environments, Duraline prefabricated Heavy-Duty Lighting Streamers feature heavy-duty molded rubber construction and crushproof, watertight sockets. The streamers, which conform to the NEC, accept incandescent or fluorescent lamps and either a vinyl-coated steel guard or a crushproof clear lexan guard. Waterproof to three feet of water, they can be used in areas of mud and are fully recoverable for repetitive use, noted the manufacturer. Lamps Philips Lighting offers both a rough service incandescent lamp (clear or frosted), which sports an exceptionally strong filament that, noted the company, makes it suitable for installations where shocks, bumps, and vibrations frequently occur, and a surge-proof lamp that could provide uninterrupted light in areas where heavy equipment may cause voltage fluctuations. Both are available in a broad range of wattages. Built to withstand high-amplitude/low-frequency shocks, bumping, banging, rough handling and other hallmarks of rugged use, the Sylvania Rough Service XL offers 5,000 hours average rated lamp life. They are available in 60-, 75-, and 100-watt versions, with a frost finish. High-intensity discharge (HID) options are becoming popular Manufacturers are introducing UL-Listed HID fixtures for 400-watt metal halide lamps hung on I-bolts or other supports. The fixtures could provide a lot of light per unit for locations where the mounting height exceeds 15 feet. Designed especially to light work sites, McGill’s 400-Watt HID Temporary Lighting fixture comes with a hook and an incoming power cord, so it can be plugged in or hardwired. Cooper Lighting’s new UL-listed Lumark Steeler Worklight features a durable formed and welded steel wire guard coated with safety yellow polyester paint. Fixture hooks and loops and power cords with and without plugs are available as accessories. The FELDMANS provide Web content for companies and write for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers, and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at or (914) 238-6272.

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