August 31, 2023

Lighting in the workplace

The importance of efficient lighting in the workplace

Lighting in the workplace is treated, from the point of view of Occupational Health and Safety, as a physical risk that can affect the worker in all the factors that a Senior Occupational Health and Safety Technician wants to control.Today, artificial lighting goes beyond the simple objective of enabling vision in places with poor natural lighting. Good lighting has a number of benefits for human beings. There are several scientific studies that relate the performance of the lighting system to the performance of an employee in their workplace. It has been proven that adequate artificial lighting not only reduces the possibility of error or accident, but also reduces fatigue and has a good influence on worker motivation, improving the working environment.In fact, the quality of lighting at workstations can have a significant effect on an organization’s productivity.It is also estimated that good lighting reduces the occurrence of work errors by between 30% and 60%, reduces eye strain, headaches, nausea and neck pain that often accompany eye strain.

The level and quality of lighting required depends on several factors

This includes the nature of the task, the visual acuity of each worker and the environment in which the activity is carried out. For example, while detailed tasks such as inspection, assembly of small parts, technical drawing, a large part of medical activities, among others, require a large amount of light energy, other tasks that require less detail, such as loading or unloading common materials, handling or packaging materials, require lower levels of light energy. It should also be noted that in some cases, improving the quality of lighting conditions at workstations can be achieved without the need to increase the number of luminaires, but only through more effective use of natural light, relative repositioning between light points and workstations, better use of light reflected from surfaces in the environment, among other means. The main consequences of incorrect or inadequate lighting are eye fatigue, headaches, stress, incorrect postures, lower motivation, lower productivity and a greater likelihood of accidents.

Whenever you notice inadequate lighting, you should:

  • Warn of the situation, whether there is too little or too much light
  • Report the need to replace bulbs or the detection of any damage to the lighting system
  • Take regular breaks, especially when working with display/monitor/screen equipment, where greater vision effort is required.
  • Avoid situations where work plans are mirrored and intertwined
  • Avoid taciturn and melancholic colors

Check the efficiency of the lighting in your workplace, considering the following points:

  • Is the light sufficient and adequate? Excess light is a common problem in companies and offices. However, too much light does not mean adequate light. On the contrary, it can get in the way and create a feeling of discomfort.
  • Minimum and maximum illuminance limits. Work area lighting depends on the type of room and the tasks to be performed. For example, for office tasks with normal visual needs, the min/max limits are 500-750(lx).
  • In addition to general lighting, some activities also require more specific lighting on the desk (desklight).
    Excess sunlight should be controlled with curtains and blinds. There is a tendency to take advantage of natural light, always complementing it with artificial lighting, which can lead to excessive brightness in the workplace.
  • People’s lighting needs vary throughout the day. Identifying this variation can help with work performance.
  • Lighting with different colors makes the work environment less monotonous, causing a feeling of well-being.
  • Possibility of using lighting features on walls to make them more cozy.
    Make sure that computers are not directly exposed to natural light. The computer monitor should never be exposed to natural light from windows/doors. Glare damages concentration and health.
  • Removing lamps where there is more light than necessary, making sure that good lighting is maintained in the workplace so as not to impair performance or prevent accidents (very important in work areas with machinery).
  • By cleaning the walls, ceilings and floors, the use of light colors in the workplace improves lighting and employees feel more comfortable and motivated to work.
  • Lighting levels in rest areas and cafeterias should be dimmer than in work areas

Relevance of color in comfort factors

Color also plays a very important role here. The chromatic treatment of environments implies, in practical terms, knowing not only how each color “works”, but also the relationships between them, insofar as it will be necessary to treat several colors and decide which color to give more or less predominance, in an attempt to create a harmonious chromatic environment.As a general rule, lighter colors are perceived as having greater amplitude, details with more intense colors stand out and are perceived as larger, and details with more saturated or pure colors are perceived as more complex.Colors have undeniable psychological effects, although there are significant variations between individuals. These effects are partly due to previous non-conscious experiences and hereditary factors. The most characteristic subjective sensations caused by colors are related to distance, temperature and psychological affectivity. Therefore, since the use of color influences comfort and the visual perception of things, it should be given priority whenever possible:

  • colors that encourage cleanliness and order (light colors),
  • colors that improve light output,
  • colors that avoid chaining,
  • colors that suit the workers’ tastes as much as possible,
  • colors whose combination is stimulating, in order to avoid monotony,
  • colors for the rest areas that offer a change of atmosphere compared to the colors used in the work areas,

Practical recommendations:

  • Neutral colors should dominate in areas where people spend a lot of time, so as not to cause fatigue and to allow the most important elements to stand out: machines, obstacles, signs, etc.
  • Areas with little permanence (such as corridors, meeting rooms) can be treated with more intense colors, taking into account the effect you want to reinforce: spaciousness, intimacy, relaxation, etc.
  • Areas with very little permanence, such as canteens, halls, can be treated with bold colors, strong contrasts that on the one hand stimulate, separate and characterize them from other environments.