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The Lights are Falling! How Not to Lower the Lights
Some outdoor light poles might have a defect so crippling it can topple the entire structure to the ground. The U.S. CPSC says a qualified inspector should examine all high-mast luminaires for visible signs of cracking, fracture or deterioration.
In August, the CPSC issued an advisory about outdoor steel stadium light poles after nine in Texas fell and 50 developed fractures and/or cracks. The problem was so persistent the CPSC is now investigating a variety of manufacturers’
“The high-mast luminaire, if overlooked, can become a loaded gun but many of the issues cannot be found with the naked eye,” said Donald Uptain, president of Unified Testing Services, Inc., a full-service testing and consulting engineering firm headquartered in Woodstock, Ala. “A thorough safety inspection and testing program should be established for these types of structures. Even brand new, they could have serious flaws that had been introduced during the manufacturing, welding or anchoring stages. Specialized testing equipment will catch those issues.”
High-mast luminaires are commonly found lining the nation’s highways and roadways, providing light once the sun sets. Outdoor stadium light poles, also known as high-mast luminaires, are usually found in facilities such as recreational parks and fields, parking lots, outdoor stadiums, high schools and colleges, and prisons. These towers usually withstand years of abuse from the environment. But wind can fatigue the entire structure from the anchor bolts to the vertical welds, and moisture from rain and snow can contribute to corrosion. In some cases, improper installation can result in a tilted pole or loose screw plates.
“The safety of an outdoor structure can be compromised by either environmental conditions or human error,” said Bob Bills, president of Non-Destructive Testing Services, Inc., a full-service material inspection company headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich. “In worst-case scenarios, structural or construction flaws can cause serious injuries or even death to bystanders. Safety inspection and testing along with periodic assessments can help minimize those potential dangers.”
NDTS and UTS provide inspection services for high-mast luminaires using qualified/certified personnel and specialized ultrasonic testing equipment. Inspectors are certified to the requirements of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) recommend practice SNT-TC-1A. Pole inspections follow written guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation’
Services consist of certified welding inspectors and NDT technicians inspecting the general structure including the welded and bolted connections, and utilizing liquid penetrant, magnetic particle, and ultrasonic testing for cracks. Additionally, a thorough visual examination of the pole base is offered along with testing of the nuts to the anchor base.
For more information about the High-Mast Luminaires Inspection Program at UTS, call 1-TUV-RHEINLAND (888-743-4652)
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