Light is a force that has a powerful impact on the human body. Studies have shown that dedicated applications of lighting can have an effect on all aspects of a worker’s experience, including reduction in accidents, illness, eyestrain, and absenteeism.
Lighting in the average workplace ranges from 50 to 500 lux (a measurement of illumination equal to the intensity of one candle). Research has shown that proper use of lighting can lessen the loss of alertness, production errors, and accidents, especially among nightshift workers and those on rotating shifts.
A 60-watt incandescent bulb in a 10-foot-high ceiling will produce only about 100 lux at eye level. Studies show that carefully timed exposure to bright light (over 1,000 lux) decreases fatigue and increases alertness.
You may want to have your facility manager assess the wattage of lights over workstations, check for burned-out bulbs, and make sure lighting fixtures are dusted and cleaned periodically.
Supplemental lighting with lamps, rather than more overhead lighting, can be added at workstations as needed to adequately illuminate tasks.
Interior colors, especially in production areas, should be of medium value. Therefore, dark-colored carpeting and flooring, window treatments, walls, and cubicles may not be the best choice. Dark colors also absorb light, thus requiring the use of more wattage—and electricity—to illuminate an area. On the other hand, light or bright colors can contribute to glare and eyestrain.
Make sure that lighting is diffused through baffles or bounced off surfaces in such a way that serious shadows and glare are avoided. Use of matte finishes, rather than glossy or polished surfaces, is also recommended for work areas.
Types of Lighting
- Incandescent. This type of lighting was invented by Thomas Edison and has been used for over 100 years. Modern technology has reduced glare through the development of soft white, reflector, linestra, and other types of bulbs.
- Halogen. This type of bulb is often used in task lighting and track lighting because it saves energy.
- Fluorescent. New energy-saving fluorescent bulbs can be used as direct replacements for incandescent bulbs. They give more realistic color quality and can save as much as 75 percent in energy cost.
- Full-spectrum. These new bulbs simulate the full-spectrum light of natural sunshine. Not only do they reduce eyestrain, but they have the added dimension of improving mood, especially during the shorter days of winter or for night workers. Studies also show that worksites with full-spectrum lighting have half the absenteeism for illness than those that do not.
- Sunlight. It is obvious, but the effective use of natural sunlight to reduce the use of artificial lighting and eliminate overlighted or underlighted areas should be a priority.