Installation and Product Guidelines for Ultraviolet Lighting Safety
January 8, 2021
Ultraviolet (UV) light safety guidelines may sound intimidating; after all, most other light sources do not come with safety warnings. However, it is important to understand that UV lighting is not the same as your typical lighting and with proper persuasions can provide clinically proven disinfection.
Invisible and potent, UV lamps can lead to skin and eye irritations and burns. Because of this, UV products require more safety precautions than standard lamps. Below, the experts with Actions Services Group identify and explain ultraviolet light safety guidelines as they pertain to products, installation, and operation. Not only can these guidelines help minimize potential exposure to the UV lights, but they can also ensure your devices are used effectively and efficiently.
Ultraviolet Lighting Installation Safety Guidelines
When it comes to the installation of UV products, there are a number of practices that ensure proper caution is taken. From hiring trusted professionals to having the appropriate warnings available to potential occupants, below are the safety guidelines you should abide by for the safe installation of UV products.
1) Hire trusted professionals to perform the installation.
When it comes to installing UV-C fixtures, it is vital that you hire a trusted electrician with prior experience working with this specialized equipment. Why?
In most cases, UV products need to be wired through a circuit that runs separately from that of the rest of your lighting. Because these systems need to be run independently of each other, it is considered a “UV Best Practice” to separate the circuitry entirely to ensure full isolation of the UV system. Electricians who are unfamiliar with UV products often overlook this and tie the two systems together.
For more “UV Best Practices” check out our blog series on UV Lighting. You can find industry-specific content, FAQ, Benefits, and more on product explanations.
2) Consider the use of a lighting control system.
In addition to separating the circuitry altogether, it is also highly recommended that your UV fixtures are tied to a lighting control system. While the benefits of a lighting control system with standard lighting are well known, they are even more important here. Unlike LED lighting control systems that focus on reducing costs and providing efficient lighting, pairing UV lamps with a control system is about safety.
UV-C lighting, as stated previously, can be harmful to human skin and eyes. Lighting control systems are the first line of defense against accidental exposure. Some UV lamps do come with built-in occupancy sensors that can automatically detect an occupant and turn the light off. However, these sensors can be faulty or have poor detection ranges that fail to perform as desired. To complement this and ensure full protection, other options exist. These include:
Because control systems are recommended for businesses of all kinds, you may already have one installed. In some situations, your UV products can be tied into these pre-existing systems. However, it is typically recommended that your UV lamps are tied into a separate system to prevent accidental operation.
Control systems offer several different settings that can help ensure UV light safety guidelines are met. For example, automated run cycles, automatic shut-offs, and occupancy sensors can all be set up and adjusted via a single control system. In many cases, these controls can be adjusted from anywhere via smartphone or computer software. (As COVID continues to spread and cause national limitations on occupancy, the ability to adjust settings remotely helps protect operators from unnecessary trips to the office.)
If you know there are areas that will be empty during specific times, a programmable switch may be another option.
As with a programmable thermostat, these types of switches can turn your UV products on during periods where the spaces are known to be unoccupied. For example, schools, retail stores, and restaurants tend to have specific hours of operation. Programmable switches can ensure their systems turn on at the same time each night and run for a specific amount of time before automatically turning off.
It should be noted that facilities that operate at all times, such as hospitals, hotels, or nursing homes, should consider other options instead. Because a space may be occupied at any time in these types of facilities, a programmable switch may accidentally turn UV lamps on with an occupant in the room.
UV-C fixtures do not have to run continually to destroy microorganisms. In fact, based on the UV lamps you choose, you may only need to run these fixtures between 5 and 30 minutes for successful eradication of surface microorganisms.
Adding a timer, regardless of whether your UV product includes built-in sensors can help ensure the light does not remain on at all times. This can help prevent prolonged accidental exposure as the invisible UV-C rays will be contained to very specific time limits.
A timer also helps to ensure the right dose of germicidal UV light is applied. Not all UV lamps are created equal and distances between the light and surface all affect how much germicidal irradiation is needed. Installing a timer can ensure the required exposure is reached without expending more energy than required.
Wireless controls are also a popular choice. These require little to no hardware being installed as all signals and controls are operated wirelessly. As with standard control systems, this option offers many of the same features. (However, if your structure is in a site that often loses power or experiences interruptions in Wi-Fi services, it might be best to pair this and the traditional control system to ensure you still have hardwired control options available during an outage or reset.)
To review your options for lighting control systems, we recommend reading our full series on the topic. You will find an introduction to lighting controls, benefits, strategies, and more! Click here for the full series on lighting control systems.
3) Indicator lights are essential.
UV light is not visible. Because of this, it is important to install indicator lights that alert potential occupants when these lamps are on.
Often placed outside of the room, in a clearly visible location, these lights provide a clear indication of UV operation. If the light is on, potential occupants known to remain outside of the room to eliminate the unnecessary risk of exposure.
4) Hang warning signs to alert occupants.
Warning signs are another preventative measure that is often recommended. Not all potential occupants may realize what the indicator light is signaling. Warning signs ensure potential occupants are fully aware of the dangers and know not to enter while the UV lamps are in use.
Best Practices for Using UV Products and Ultraviolet Lighting Safety
Before you turn your UV lights on for the first time, it is important that you read your Operator’s Manual and take any training that is offered or recommended by the manufacturer and installer.
It is important to note that there are no set regulations when it comes to UV products, which means there are plenty of models that may be faulty, dangerous, or provide less germicidal irradiation than promised. (In fact, if your lighting system does not come with an Operator’s Manual – the source is likely not reputable and finding a different one is highly recommended.)
That being said, in addition to the recommendations included in your Operator’s Manual and associated training, below are some of the best practices when using your UV products.
1) Ensure the room is unoccupied.
It is absolutely essential that rooms are not occupied unless absolutely necessary when a UV-C lamp is on. UV-A and UV-B wavelengths are known to cause skin irritation and damages to eyes. They have also been linked to cancer. While the majority of reputable UV products utilize UV-C wavelengths, UV-A and UV-B can occasionally be included in the mix depending on the manufacturer. (Again, this is why it is important to work with a reputable vendor!)
UV-C rays are stronger than UV-A and UV-B wavelengths. While this means they are ideal for germicidal irradiation, it also means it takes less time for exposure to cause skin and eye irritation.
Some UV products are also linked to the production of ozone and unpleasant smells as a cycle runs. While ozone may be above safe levels for immediate human exposure, the smells are simply inconvenient. Both are strong reasons for preventing UV lamps from operating while a room is occupied.
2) Keep eyes covered.
There are portable UV products, such as handheld wands meant to provide targeted exposure to a finite area. These UV lamps are typically operated by an individual. To do so, they must be present in the room. When this occurs, it is essential that these operators are using the appropriate protective eyewear. Plastic or glass face shields or goggles are commonly recommended. Your Operator’s Manual should provide a clear recommendation on the type of eyewear that is required. (Some products may even come with the required protective eyewear.)
3) Wear clothes that prevent accidental skin exposure.
While protective eyewear may be included, clothes are not. It is just as important for the operator to wear clothing that prevents their skin from accidental exposure.
Long sleeves and gloves are commonly recommended. Nitrile or work gloves are often best suited for protecting your hands. Tightly woven fabrics are ideal for the covering of skin on your arms and legs.
In the above section, we recommend eye and skin coverings while using handheld UV products. Due to the potential risks associated with handheld UV products, Action Services Group does not sell any UV products that require a person to be present while the product is in operation. For an in-depth look at our UV products please visit our UV Germicidal Lighting Education Center.
Testing UV Lamps
Ensuring your UV products are operating as expected is also important when abiding by ultraviolet light safety guidelines. This is because a UV lamp that is behaving unpredictably, can lead to accidental exposure. (For example, if the light is failing to sense occupancy, it may not turn the lamp off when someone enters the room.)
There are several different tools you can use to determine the effectiveness of your UV lamps. The two most commonly used tools, however, are UV-C radiometers or dosimeters.
UV-C radiometers collect data as the fixtures are running. Stored on cards or cloud services, this data can then be analyzed to ensure your UV products are behaving as expected and continuing to meet with your expectations.
Dosimeters are physical cards that are left in the room that change color based on its level of UV exposure. This can help users to clearly determine whether the light is provided the necessary level of UV-C required to eliminate the targeted microorganisms. (For example, the amount of germicidal irradiation that is required to destroy e. coli is higher than that required to kill your standard flu.)
The above UV testing measures are just one reason why purchasing your UV lighting from a respectable organization and having them installed by professionals is highly recommended. To learn more about our UV products and services, click here.
UV Installation with Action Services Group
When combined with manual cleaning efforts, UV products are potent tools used to combat airborne, surface, and waterborne microorganisms and pathogens. However, certain precautions should be taken when using these fixtures.
The experts with Action Services Group provide top-of-the-line UV products and installation. Because we take your safety seriously, our professionals take the time to properly install UV lamps and fixtures and will gladly walk you through the best use practices.
Contact Action Services Group today to learn more about how UV light can safely assist you with keeping your business sanitized without impacting operations. Call 610-558-9773 or email [email protected], you can also schedule a call by clicking the button below.
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