The Ergonomics of Lighting

The ergonomics of lighting – the relationship between the light source and the individual – clearly has a significant effect on productivity.

Office work is visually demanding and has always required good lighting for maximum comfort and productivity. “Good” lighting means providing enough illumination so that people can see printed, handwritten or displayed documents clearly but are not blinded by excessively high light levels (a cause of glare).

The introduction of computers in the 1970’s increased the visual demands of office work and made lighting design even more challenging. While typewriters were being exchanged for computers, the need for redesigning or rearranging office lighting was commonly overlooked.

The monitor itself is a source of light. As such, it does not require additional illumination from other sources. In fact, the screen itself can cause glare if the brightness and contrast controls are not properly adjusted.

An additional challenge occurs because most office work involves using the monitor and paper documents at the same time. Paper documents require a higher light level than the monitor. A desk lamp can be used to illuminate documents while avoiding excessive light near the monitor. Glare can also result from an improper match or excessive contrast in light levels between the monitor screen and the paper.

The monitor can also act as a mirror. Reflections of objects, shiny walls, and any light source (specifically windows and overhead lighting) all cause glares.

The most common complaints resulting from poor lighting are: eyestrain, eye irritation, blurred vision, dry burning eyes, and headaches. Poor lighting can also contribute to stiff necks and aches in shoulder area. These problems can occur when people adopt poor or awkward postures when trying to read something under poor lighting conditions.

Poor lighting can be a safety hazard – misjudgment of the position, shape or speed of an object can lead to accidents and injury. Poor lighting can affect the quality of work, specifically in situation where precision is required, and overall productivity. Eye discomfort can be reduced by adjustments to the overhead lighting; both the filters used to diffuse the overhead lighting and an individuals ability to dim the overhead lights.

A correctly lit room is achieved through diffusion or refracted light from a lens. This removes any extremes in contrast, both very bright and very dark areas. A correctly lit room will give a sense of tranquility. It will not cause headaches or eyestrain and will remove glare on a computer screen. Refracted light is light being shown through a diffuser (lens cover) that protects the eyes as it spreads the light out over the appropriate area. This creates a visually comforting (low-glare) environment that can augment productivity and the general happiness of employees.

Ceiling mounted fluorescent fixtures have an added feature where some of the light can be emitted upward to produce ceiling brightness, making the space look more open and larger.

In an office setting Fluorescent luminaries can provide a virtually shadow-free environment. Workers find that the ability to adjust lighting themselves makes tasks seem less difficult. There is also the added benefit of energy saving when you provide workers individual lighting controls. Energy savings can be considerable. Lighting accounts for about 20 to 25 percent of all electricity consumed in the United States, and up to 30 percent of a business’ energy costs. Sadly, experts estimate that over 50 percent of the energy used for lighting is wasted by obsolete equipment, inadequate maintenance, or inefficient use. Additional waste is created by the careless use of excessive or task-inappropriate lighting fixtures.

Having the appropriate clean and clear lenses refracting the light from the bulbs has multiple benefits discussed above.The cost of replacing any worn lenses is minimal when you consider the negative consequences ignoring the situation can cause.  With the thousands of different styles available in lens covers the easy solution is to call Fluorolite.