Many Employees Changing Fluorescent Tubes Unsafely, Survey Reveals

Key Points

  • Survey reveals that 22% of employers have had to change a fluorescent tube in the workplace, even though it is not their responsibility and they don’t know how to do so safely
  • Not knowing how to change a bulb properly can lead to injuries including burns, cuts, falls and electrical injuries
  • Not taking responsibility for lighting can mean employers are breaking the law and are at risk of being sued should the worst happen

A recent survey by online light bulb retailers LampShopOnline has revealed that employers are not taking responsibility for maintaining the light bulbs in their premises.

Instead, employees are having to take matters into their own hands by changing the bulbs themselves, despite many not knowing how to do so safely.

Changing a light bulb may seem straightforward but common injuries can include:

  • Falls from ladders, desks or chairs
  • Cuts from the bulb breaking
  • Burns from hot bulbs
  • Electric related injuries

The survey of 1,000 people revealed that 22% of employees have had to change a fluorescent tube in the workplace themselves, even though it is not their responsibility.

The survey also showed that 58% of employees don’t actually know how to change a fluorescent tube, which could present a real safety issue if they decide to change a bulb themselves without knowing what they’re doing.

What’s more, faulty or dead fluorescent tubes in the workplace can cause health issues such as headaches, migraines and eye strain and put employees at risk of trips and falls, as well as contributing to reducing staff productivity.

Below are the full results of the surveys:

lso fluorescent survey results employees office lighting

Lighting related illness and accidents cost businesses millions every year

Accidents in the workplace and time off work due to illness as a result of poor lighting can have a dramatic impact on a business’s bottom line. It’s estimated that 25 million days from work are lost each year due to people suffering from migraines alone, which equates to £2.25bn lost to businesses.

Falls and trips in poorly lit areas not only cause absenteeism, but in some cases can lead to employers being sued, as not taking responsibility for implementing the correct lighting at work could actually mean your company is breaking the law.

Who’s responsible for lighting in the workplace?

Business owners may not be aware that they are responsible for maintaining the lighting at work and therefore this responsibility may fall on employees. As the majority of people don’t know how to change a fluorescent tube in the workplace, this could create a health and safety risk for employees.

Furthermore, fluorescent tubes are particularly dangerous to change as they contain mercury which, if the tube is broken, can be a health and environmental hazard.

According to the Health and Safety Executive “Employers, the self-employed and people in control of non-domestic premises,” are responsible for maintaining lighting in the workplace by ensuring it’s safe and that it does not pose a health risk to employees.

Whoever changes the light bulbs in your workplace should be fully trained to do so and have the tools to be able to do this safely, including having access to a step ladder and knowing how to dispose of a fluorescent tube correctly. You can find out more about replacing and recycling fluorescent tubes safely here, and locations where tubes can be recycled here.

How to spot areas of your workplace with lighting issues

Age, Gender and Fluorescent Tubes

The survey revealed that of the 22% of people who had changed a light bulb at work, 69% were male and just 31% were female.

This gender divide was also clear in the results of the second part of the survey where 60% of men said they would know how to change a fluorescent tube and just 40% of women did.

The age of the people surveyed was also a factor, just 30% of people under 34 said they would know how to change a fluorescent bulb, compared with 70% of people aged 35 and above.

Younger people also had much less experience of how to change a fluorescent tube, with just 32% of people under 35 having changed a tube before, compared to 68% of people over the age of 35.

Click here for the age and gender survery results of 'Have you or a colleague ever changed a fluorescent tube at work?'

Click here for the age and gender survery results of 'Would you know how to replace a fluorescent strip light in the workplace?'

Taking responsibility for the lighting in your workplace is straightforward and a few simple checks can ensure your staff are comfortable at work and you can be confident that you’re not breaking any laws or endangering your staff.

The obvious thing to look for are dim areas where bulbs have burnt out and haven’t been replaced.

Flickering, buzzing and fluorescent tubes that are dimmer at the ends than the centre all indicate a problem with the bulb or ballast that needs looking at.

As well as faulty fluorescents, there are a number of other things to look out for which indicate inadequate lighting.

As you assess each area of the office, look for signs that employees are unhappy with the current lighting in place:

  • Employees bringing lamps in from home - this is very important as the law states that employers need to ensure their electrical equipment is properly maintained in order to prevent danger, in some cases this can include electrical items being PAT tested by a qualified electrician.
  • Missing fluorescent tubes or old tubes that need replacing.
  • Lights that are not turned on.
  • Unused lamps, such as task lamps.
  • Occupancy sensors that are not being used or are not set at an appropriate level.

For further clarity, speak to your team to gauge how satisfied they are with the lighting in the office.

Ongoing lighting maintenance

Once you’re lighting is up to standard, you can then put a plan in place to maintain this, some points to consider are:

  • Make sure employees know to notify you or the person in charge of maintenance if there is an issue with any of the lighting at work.
  • Continue to monitor and review the lighting conditions in the workplace, particularly if you change the layout of the office or the lighting design.
  • Arrange for light bulbs to be cleaned regularly to prevent dimness.
  • Implement regular risk assessments.

You can find out more about replacing fluorescent tubes with our guide How to Install a Fluorescent Tube and you can find out if the ballast is an issue with your faulty fluorescent with the complete guide to ballasts here. If you’re not sure what is causing issues with a fluorescent tube then check out our guide Easy Fixes to Slow to Start, Flickering or Faulty Fluorescent Tubes.

For advice on anything related to lighting, call LampShopOnline’s helpful team today on 0113 8876270 or email [email protected]. When you’re ready to update the fluorescent tubes in your office, we have a full range you can buy online here.

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