Ergonomics is a hot business word right now, as employers look to ensure their office is as employee friendly as possible to promote a healthy workforce, and to avoid those ever present compensation claims that seem to be cropping up all too often. Ergonomics is often used to describe workstations, with lighting ergonomics rarely being mentioned, despite it being just as important. Poor lighting can contribute to eyestrain and eye fatigue, headaches, sleeping problems, reduced concentration and even mental health issues. For your workforce this can mean a drastic drop in morale, productivity and accuracy. In some cases, it may even contribute to sickness levels. With these issues being so important, it’s a real error for any employer to overlook this area of office ergonomics. And yet, in so many workplaces it is common to see employees sitting at a well designed workstation underneath harshly bright or dimly lit light strips.
Here are just a few lighting improvements that will help your office become more ergonomically sound:
Get The Light Levels Right
If the lighting is too dark your employees will have to strain their eyes in order to see what they are doing. This means they will have increased difficulty in performing tasks, and an increased risk of eyesight issues. It may also lead to them experiencing headaches staring at a bright screen surrounded by dim lighting. When the lighting is too bright it can be just as much of an issue, potentially decreasing the clarity of screen images. If your entire workforce is based on a computer or laptop, your lighting needs to enable them to easily see what is on their screen without them having to strain their eyes at all. If you have the budget, changing the office lighting system should be a priority. It needn’t take an entire refurbishment, just a simple addition of wall lights and stronger bulbs for ceiling lights, and the ability to adjust lighting levels accordingly if the office has a lot of natural light coming into it.
Incandescent Lighting Works
Incandescent lighting is not as energy efficient as fluorescent lighting, but it is softer and much easier on the eyes. They may cost you a bit more to install and run, but overall they are worth the investment when you compare their costs to the amount you would spend on employee health, productivity and attendance issues relating to poor lighting.
Place The Lighting Carefully
Where the light shines is as important as how bright it shines. Screen glare can be a real issue, so lights should never directly shine onto a screen.
Where Possible Face Computer Screens Away From Windows
Natural light is fantastic, but not when it’s shining directly at a computer screen. If possible, screens should not be facing direct natural light. However, when employees are facing the window they may also struggle with lighting issues if sunlight is shining in their eyes. The best possible solution is to tint the office windows using tinted window sheets, or installing blinds.
Think Daylight, Not Sunlight
Daylight is an excellent source of light for the office and should be welcomed. However, direct sunlight can be a real issue and should be avoided where possible. If you welcome daylight into your office you should try to use blinds and tinted window sheets as above to avoid times of the day when direct sunlight is a problem. Excessive heat from direct sunlight can also be an issue in relation to the overall comfort of the office, so overall it is best avoided.
For more information on office lighting ergonomics the governments information on DSE (Display Screen Equipment) regulations has some related points worth reading which you can see here. Alternatively, they have a ‘Lighting At Work’ free downloadable publication offering guidance on lighting levels in the workplace which you can download here.