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How Lighting Ergonomics Can Affect Your Employees

Feb 2, 2022 | All Articles, Ergonomics, Productivity

Inappropriate lighting lowers employee performance, causes health and safety problems. To improve worker productivity and well-being, you need to optimize the source and level of lighting for different tasks in warehouses, distribution centers, or manufacturing facilities.  

Why is lighting ergonomics important?

While other ergonomic issues such as awkward postures and repetitive motions have gained awareness in industrial environments, ergonomic lighting is often forgotten in the workplace.

Lighting ergonomics refers to how an individual relates to the source of light. This relationship can affect the well-being and productivity of an employee.

Lighting ergonomics is essential because poor lighting can lead to the following:

  • High employee error rates
  • Eye fatigue
  • Low productivity
  • Inability to select and match correct colors
  • Safety hazards

This article will discuss the impact of lighting ergonomics and what you can do to ensure optimum lighting.

Let’s dive in!

Appropriate lighting boosts employee productivity

Ergonomic lighting affects physiological and psychological factors which influence employee productivity. Lighting design should give people the proper visual conditions to enhance task efficiency.

Other factors affect employees, such as worker and management relationships, control of working conditions, and motivation.

However, lighting is also a significant factor that affects productivity.

The workers need to see well to do their job efficiently.

Appropriate lighting means there is neither too much nor too little reflected light on the object. The contrast between an object and its surroundings is sufficient but not too strong.

The lighting should be pleasant and make workers feel comfortable.

Inadequate lighting is related to visual discomfort and physiological and psychological strain, leading to reduced performance and efficiency.

Poor lighting conditions among industrial workers can result in low productivity hence higher production costs for employers. It can also cause safety issues.

The different aspects of providing adequate lighting include light intensity, light temperature,  glare control, and flicker.

Let’s inspect each of these aspects.

Light intensity

Light intensity is the strength or amount of light produced by a lighting source.

In an industrial environment, lighting sources include natural light, room lighting, workstation lighting, and task lighting. Depending on task type and location, a combination of lighting sources may be necessary to ensure proper visibility.

lighting sources

The intensity of overhead lighting should be balanced to achieve an evenly lit space.

Color temperature

Color temperature refers to the amount of yellow or blue light produced by a light bulb.

It is related to mood, cognition, satisfaction, and comfort. Excessive cold lighting creates a harsh and unpleasant environment.

Applying the proper color temperature enhances cognition, meaning people think, remember, understand and solve problems faster.

Glare control

Glare is the sensation produced when some parts of the visual source are brighter than what you are used to. It can indirectly interfere with vision causing discomfort, irritability, and distraction.

Glare can cause mental and physical fatigue and affect concentration on a task.

It significantly impacts an individual who works in industrial environments.

Flicker

Flicker refers to the quick and repeated changes in the brightness of the light. It is often caused by fluctuations in voltage supply.

Flicker is associated with headaches, eye strain, and discomfort.

For fluorescent lights, it is essential to use one with electronic ballasts because they reduce the flicker effect and enhance productivity.

Inadequate lighting can cause health problems

A well-lit workstation is determined by the quantity, quality, and illuminance uniformity. Thus, the position of the light source, mounting height, and luminaire type should be great. Inappropriate illuminance levels and uniformity can cause fatigue, eye pain, and headaches.

If the illuminance levels are not well maintained, employees can have a poor mood and low alertness.

Here are some of the health problems inappropriate lighting can bring to workers:

Headaches and migraines

Harsh overhead lighting can result in repeated headaches or migraines in employees. Workers that suffer from headaches will have lower productivity and can be absent from work.

Poor sleep

Some industrial workers use only artificial lighting while working, which can be unhealthy. The body is accustomed to natural light.

If employees work all day without a source of natural light, they could experience issues with insomnia.

Eyestrain

When the eye does a lot of visual tasks in which the focal point are closer to the eyes, it causes eyestrain. The muscles stay in one position for so long hence become tired.

Workers need to have breaks and natural lighting or other ergonomic lighting choices to prevent eye strain.

Fatigue and drowsiness

Headaches, poor sleep, and eye strain can lead to fatigue decreasing workers’ productivity.

Long hours and lack of natural light can reduce performance due to chronic fatigue.

Natural light is also essential for one’s mental and physical health.

Poor lighting can jeopardize worker safety

Poor lighting is hazardous for worker safety in an industrial setting, especially when operating heavy machinery.

When you combine eye strain, fatigue, and poor sleep, an employee will have a higher chance of causing an accident at work.

A dimly lit workspace in factories or warehouses can lead to injuries and fatalities.

Lighting errors that lead to accidents include the following:

  • Insufficient light on the task
  • Uneven lighting
  • Too bright natural/artificial lighting
  • High reflectance of surfaces
  • Strong shadows
  • Reduced contrast of job due to ceiling reflections
  • Flicker

How to correct lighting problems

To correct poor lighting problems, you need to first identify lighting issues.

Let’s look at ways of detecting inappropriate lighting:

  • Compare the average illumination at your workplace to the recommended levels
    • Lumen is a measurement unit of brightness. A foot candle is how bright a light is one foot away from source. To figure out the needed lumens, multiply suggested foot candles for a space by room square footage.
    • This article explains the lumen recommendations from The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) for industrial workspaces.
  • Look if there are shadows affecting workplaces and on the stairways
  • Enquire from employees if they suffer from squinting and eye strain while working

Best practices for optimizing lighting

  • Make full use of natural lighting; use blinds to diffuse the natural light to avoid glare when needed.
  • Position the workstation in relation to the light source to avoid shadows or glare.
  • Calibrate the digital devices with screens to ensure the proper resolution and brightness for the environment where they are used. Monitors shouldn’t be surrounded by bright lights or placed in front of the window to avoid glare.
  • Balance overhead and ambient lighting to avoid a strong contrast between lighter and darker areas.
  • Replace bulbs often on a specific schedule. New bulbs give more light than older bulbs.
  • Use a damp cloth to clean light fixtures regularly. The dust on the bulbs can reduce the amount of light. You can choose light fixtures with open tops that allow air currents to move up without dust.
  • Increase the number of light fixtures in the right places.
  • Use light-colored paints for walls and ceiling for reflection.
  • Use local lighting and reflected light to get rid of shadows. For instance, you can mount a covered light on a grinding wheel under a transparent guard to provide added light.

Implement  ergonomic lighting solutions

ergonomic lighting

  • LED overhead lighting: mounted above industrial uprights to provide additional light over the work surface.
  • Task lighting: additional light for detailed tasks; mounts on upright and extends up to 35 inches; parabolic louver system provides precise light direction and reduces glare.
  • LED ring magnifier: provides focused light and magnification for highly detailed tasks such as those performed in the electronics industry. Extension adjustability range is 37 inches.
  • LED under shelf light: provides increased visibility and lighting for detailed tasks such as medical device assembly and testing/research.

Are you looking for great lighting options for your workplace?

At BOSTONtec, we provide ergonomic lighting options and workstations to enhance employee satisfaction and productivity.

 

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