Safety: Balloon Lighting Features Less Glare, Reduced Shadows

Nov. 1, 2008
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Recently, contractors everywhere have been discovering the benefits of balloon lighting. These lights are glare-free, providing broad ambient light for all types of construction sites, and do not create strong shadows.

“The balloon lights are the key to safety for nighttime paving,” says Walter (Rick) Ricker, director of field training for P.J. Keating Co., a contractor based in Lunenburg, MA. For a typical asphalt paving train with a Roadtec Shuttle Buggy, Keating uses four balloon lights. One light is located near the hopper of the Shuttle Buggy, to light up the area where the dump man helps unload asphalt trucks.

Two other balloon lights, one near each back corner of the paver, light up the screed area where workers monitor asphalt placement. And one more balloon light is posted above the paver to cast light broadly around the paver. “By having that balloon light on top of the paver, it helps illuminate the workers’ vests,” says Ricker. “That way, the paver operator can see the people walking around him. We take pride in operating a safe paving train.

“We use Carlson’s balloon lights and Ingersoll Rand balloon lights,” says Ricker. “Both of those are filled with air, and both provide a diffused light that does not create strong shadows.” Carlson Paving Products, the same Astec company that makes asphalt paver screeds, also sells a balloon light made by Airstar Lighting.

Two Types of Bulbs
“We do glare-free lighting,” says Ingmar Hansen, vice president for Powermoon Enterprises Ltd. of Woodstock, GA. “Our lights provide better visibility for workers and drivers-a reduced shadow environment. It’s diffused lighting that creates less shadow. You can see other people’s faces even with their backs turned toward the light,” says Hansen.

He says Powermoon lights open and close with a patented steel-spring mechanism that does not depend on air pressure to operate: “Ours can have holes and rips and cuts, and the light will always stay open as a balloon.”

Powermoon lights use tungsten halogen bulbs or metal-vapor bulbs. The metal-vapor bulb takes longer to light up, but it has better energy efficiency and covers more area than the tungsten halogen unit, Hansen says. “A 2,000-watt tungsten halogen bulb will only create one-third of the light output from a 1,000-watt metal vapor bulb, but the tungsten halogen bulb lights up immediately,” says Hansen.

Ken Swift, a paving foreman for the Kalamazoo (MI) Division of Aggregate Industries, recently purchased five Powermoon lights. At this writing, Swift was scheduled to begin using the lights on two asphalt pavers and a Roadtec Shuttle Buggy, all for paving on Interstate 94 between Climax and Battle Creek, MI.

“We haven’t used the lights yet in paving, but they light up our whole shop,” says Swift. “They’re quite bright, and easy to set up. We’re going to run two of the balloons on my paver, two on another paver, and one on the Shuttle Buggy.”

Ronnie Bennett, a tank-construction superintendent for Aker Kvaerner, a Norwegian construction company, is using Powermoon lights to help build a huge liquefied-natural-gas storage tank in Hackberry, LA. “I just bought 12 of the Powermoons,” says Bennett. “We’ve had three of them out here, and everybody is crazy about them. They give off great light, with no glare, and there are no hard shadows, no blinding of the crane operators.”

Some 30 to 35 workers and boilermakers are welding steel, hanging steel, and fitting steel inside Kvaerner’s 1-million-cubic-meter storage tanks. They work day and night under artificial light; there is no sunlight inside the tank. The area is about 240 feet in diameter by 140 feet high.

Bennett loves his Powermoon lights. “You can look right at them and they don’t hurt your eyes,” he says. “They’re fantastic.”

OSHA Cites Two Contractors for Atlanta-Area Trenching Violations
The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed $94,250 in penalties for seven safety violations after inspecting an Atlanta work site where employees of two construction contractors were installing storm drainage and sewer lines.

OSHA cited Plateau Excavation Inc. of Austell, GA, with two repeat safety violations and proposed penalties of $75,000. Violations included exposing employees to cave-in hazards by placing excavated material within 2 feet of the trench and allowing employees to work in an 18-foot-deep trench without an adequate protective system. The company also has been cited with one serious violation-bearing a $7,000 proposed penalty-for not providing employees with a means of egress from the trench.

Beck Inc. of Graham, AL, was cited with four serious safety violations and $12,250 in proposed penalties. OSHA noted the contractor failed to provide hazard recognition training to employees, provided inadequate access for a 24-foot-deep trench, allowed excavated materials to be placed too near the edge of a trench, and did not provide an adequate protective system for employees working in a trench.

“These employers were well aware of the OSHA requirements, yet in the interest of saving time bypassed critical safety measures and placed their employees at serious risk,” said Andre Richards, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-West Area Office. At this writing, the companies had 15 business days from receipt of the citations to contest the violations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA’s Atlanta-West Area Office in Smyrna, GA.

OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting more than 39,000 inspections in fiscal year 2007 and exceeding its inspection goals in each of the last eight years. In fiscal year 2007, OSHA found nearly 89,000 violations of its standards and regulations.