“A utility professional working in the dark is likely in the midst of an emergency,” says Jeff Scott, Regional Account Manager for RoadSafe Traffic Systems, a national distributor of traffic control and pavement marking products. “A utility worker has a job to do and must do it quickly. They don’t want to be dragging all kinds of equipment around. When it comes to lighting, they want something that’s brighter and can be deployed faster. It’s all about safety.”
“Utility workers often use a variety of lighting solutions depending on the situation at hand,” says Aaron Freund, Streamlight’s Director of Sales - Industrial/Fire Division. “Whether they are responding to a power outage, downed power lines, or a gas leak, they will take several lights to assist with pinpointing the problem, lighting the area, and fixing the trouble.”
Streamlight offers several lighting types developed specifically for emergency and other utility tasks. For example, the handheld pistol-grip Waypoint 300 is a high-lumen spotlight that shines over 1,000 meters, or well over 3,000 feet. It can be particularly useful when searching from the ground up to overhead utility lines.
Hands-free lighting gear such as headlamps is also essential. For instance, Streamlight’s Enduro PRO HAZ-LO fits easily around hardhats and is Class I, Division 1 safety-rated for use in potentially hazardous work environments that require flexible lighting options. It offers three modes: spot for distance, flood for area illumination, and a spot/flood combination for increased light output. The light’s 45° tilting head makes it easy to use in a variety of settings.
Another hands-free option from Streamlight is its new BearTrap Multi-Function Work Light. It offers bright white light in both spot and flood modes, can rotate 270° in its frame, and can be clamped virtually anywhere on a truck or utility bucket.
In some instances, more specialized lighting gear could be a utility worker’s best choice. Here’s a look at some of the more trendy options.
The safety aspect of lighting gear relates to not only the utility worker but also any motorists happening upon a worksite. Traditional work zone lighting can be pretty bright, oftentimes blinding to oncoming traffic.
“Balloon lighting, on the other hand, is diffused lighting,” says Ryan Samek, Director of Sales for RoadSafe Traffic Systems. “Balloon lighting provides 360° of light, as opposed to a direct line of light that could shine into someone’s eyes.”
RoadSafe’s Scott says some states, such as Massachusetts, now require the use of balloon lighting in certain work zones. Aside from complying with regulatory mandates, balloon lighting offers other benefits, too. For starters, Scott says it provides smooth, shadow-free illumination. Balloon lighting is also less energy-intensive, more portable, and easier to use.
“Generally speaking, you can transport a balloon light in a bag the size of a golf club bag,” Scott says. “You can set it up in about five minutes and light up a jobsite about the size of a football field.”
A balloon light does require electricity to operate. Scott says flaggers and utilities typically utilize a stand that reaches 12 to 18 feet high and can be transported in a golf bag-size carrying case. Once the stand and balloon light are set up, a cable runs from the light to an on-site utility truck. “A balloon light is typically 300 to 400 watts,” Scott explains. “A lot of users like to plug a 1,000-watt invertor into the lighter in the truck. Then they can run two balloon lights off of that inverter. It’s very simple.”
Remote control lights
Golight provides a variety of fixed lighting gear. What distinguishes the company, though, is its lineup of remote-control lights.
“Our remote control solution can be placed on the roof or hood of a truck, or even a headache rack,” says Jason Repass, Territory Manager with Golight. “The utility worker can have a wireless remote with them whether they are in the cab of the truck, up in a bucket, or 100 feet away on the jobsite. They don’t need to rely on a second person whose sole job is to manipulate the light for them while their head is in between powerlines.”
Repass says Golight strives to make its remote control lights versatile and easy to use, which includes how the lights themselves are mounted. “You can buy any of our lights with either a permanent or portable setup,” Repass points out.
The portable versions are magnetic. This allows a utility worker to pull a light out of their toolbox and connect it to any metal surface on a jobsite, such as a truck roof. However, changes by some truck manufacturers have prompted Golight to develop some adaptations. For example, to accommodate aluminum truck bodies, an additional accessory is needed. “It’s a small steel plate with several strips of double-sided tape,” Repass explains. “This is also a good option for utility workers driving trucks with fiberglass hoods.”
The big benefit of a portable mount is that it allows a utility worker to utilize the same remote-control light across several vehicles. Another benefit relates to leasing vehicles where a contractor doesn’t want to permanently mount fixtures. A third benefit is that lights can easily be taken down and stowed away when not in use. This reduces the possibility of damage or theft.
Repass says it’s important to recognize the benefits of permanently mounted lights, too. First, the utility worker saves time because no setup is required. Secondly, there is no worry about forgetting light fixtures on jobsites.
Wearable safety lights
Another unique piece of lighting gear is a wearable safety light.
“Our type of product has the most value when workers are in potentially dangerous situations and need to be seen, but also need to see things themselves to do their work,” says Chad Keller, President and CEO of Archangel Device, maker of Guardian Angel wearable safety lights.
Utility workers will also benefit from wearable lighting gear that is comfortable and versatile.
“Utility workers don’t want something big and bulky,” Keller points out. “You can wear our light literally anywhere on your person. We’ve also created a series of mounts that allows our light to be mounted on another object.”
The secret is the magnetic mount with 22 pounds of pressure that can be positioned under clothing as well as on a hardhat or belt. And because the Guardian Angel light itself is magnetic, it can be affixed to anything metallic, giving utility workers a simple way to light up specific work areas. “Powerline workers will often mount our light in their lift bucket to give them some extra lighting while up in the air working,” Keller says.
When worn on a shoulder or hardhat, Keller says most utility workers set the forward-facing light to white, allowing it to function as a floodlight. “Even if you’re walking down a very dark street, you’ll easily see 50 to 60 feet in front of you in a nice, big spread of light,” Keller points out.
The rear-facing light can be activated simultaneously to enhance personal visibility in every direction for up to 5 miles. Keller says utility workers often choose yellow, green, amber, or orange. The simple push-button operation allows any light to be activated.
“We wanted to design as much capability as we could into as small a device as possible,” Keller says. The Guardian Angel Elite Series light is just 2 to 2.5 inches in size and weighs approximately 5 ounces with the mount.
More lighting gear options for utility workers
As you can see, there is a variety of innovative lighting gear to help utility workers stay safe and productive in the dark. Each provides its own set of benefits in different applications. Traditional lighting gear including fixed spotlights, headlamps, flashlights, and lanterns can also come in handy. Here is a look at some more of the best lighting gear for utility workers.
Aircraft Dynamics Robolights are offered in a variety of styles including helmet lights, handheld lights, and scene lighting. The company also offers a clever Robolight Bucket Holder for convenient use of a handheld light in an aerial bucket.
SeeDevil LED Balloon Light Kits are available from 60 to 700 watts, providing 5,000 to 61,000 square feet of glare-free illumination.
Pi-Lit is available in various form factors, pi-lit® sequential warning lamps keeps utility personnel, DOT personnel, contractors, first responders, etc. safe when on the road and in dangerous situations.
Koehler-BrightStar offers a variety of handheld and hands-free lighting gear including headlamps, flashlights, lanterns, and personal safety beacons.
McDermott Light & Signal’s lighting gear includes barricade lights, hand lights, ladder lights, LED flag lanterns, LED tower ladder lights, spotlights, and more.
Nightstick by Bayco includes flashlights, lanterns, angle lights, headlamps, traffic wands, and more.
Railhead Corp. offers a range of flashlights, lanterns, headlamps, safety beacons, spotlights, and portable work lamps.
TecNiq offers a variety of LED emergency lighting systems for trucks and trailers, as well as scene and work lighting.
All-Terrain LENTRY Lighting Systems from Ventry Solutions are mobile, telescopic units that light large areas for hours at a time using either LED or halogen lights.
Ver-Mac manufactures mobile electronic traffic control equipment and lighting/security equipment, including variable message signs, temporary traffic signals, and light towers.
Whelen Engineering provides lighting gear such as vehicle lightbars, beacons, and the Arges Remote Spotlight designed with first responder safety in mind.
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