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Summary: installing the right tyPe of lighting, ensuring right illuminance and combining direct and indirect light source are very imPortant while designing offices as it Plays a very imPortant role in ensuring Productivity and health of emPloyees.

One of the most important components to setting up offices is lighting. Nowadays, up to 80 per cent of the information is processed visually. This leads to the fact that the choice of illumination has a more and more significant impact on the adequate processing of information. At the workplace, the illumination is mainly a part of ergonomic guidelines.

Lighting plays a great role in ensuring productivity and health of employees. Bad lighting may lead to vision problems (eyestrain, dry eyes, itchy/ irritated eyes), health problems, and reduced work performance. Computer work can be particularly visually demanding.

Besides the fact that light does influence the personal well-being and health, it has also a positive impact on the motivation and performance. Lighting at the workplace is based

on ergonomic principles and has to meet safety requirements within themeaning of occupational health and safety. Now let us think about the main aspects that have to be taken into consideration when it comes to office lighting?

lIgHTIng and ergonomICs

Light has different functions that have to be taken into consideration for comprehensive assessment

of a lighting concept in a room. Illumination does not only support the visual perception and therefore the information brokerage, but it is also signified by psychic-emotional and psychic-biological effects.

The visual perception in a room is initially achieved by illumination. Therefore, ceiling fixtures have tobe chosen individually accordingto the room condition. In addition, table lights and floor lamps can intensify the lighting effect. They are also able to zoom in on information processing and mental stimulation at the same time. The appropriate use of daylight and artificial light can have a strong impact on the psychic-emotional factors of lighting. Other factors that are influenced by light are health and performance. An ergonomically designed lighting can be very supporting and as studies have proofed, a good illumination at the working place has also an impact on motivation.

Several countries have laws prescribing minimum standards regarding lighting at workplace and health standards to be maintained there. The German Ordinance for Work with Visual Display Units implements the minimum standards in Germany regarding safety and health at computer workstations. Additionally, the workplaces ordinance regulates more important issues regarding lighting at the workplace.

For the evaluation of quality of illumination, a variety of parameters is analyzed. The major criteria are lighting level and illuminance, harmonic brightness control,

light color, direction of light andrestriction of glare and shadiness. Those parameters, influencingvisual environment, comfort and performance, are frequently noted in scientific and practical approaches. The following suggestions will help to achieve a perfect lighting inside offices. The most important is use of low or glare free fixtures. Indirect or direct/indirect light fixtures provide the best lighting solutions for many offices. This kind of light fixture hangs from the ceiling and gives more even illumination.

If task lighting is used it should provide supplemental light for paper documents. If you do choose to

use a task light to illuminate paper documents, be sure to: select a low glare asymmetric lens, an adjustable position task light and place it in a convenient position to light coloured documents without causing reflected glare in the computer screen and position the task light to the side of the computer screen so that the light shines on paper documents rather than the monitor screen.

Using appropriate light levels is also important. With too much ambient light your computer screen will look "washed out" because of veiling glare. This makes reading more difficult, and increases your chance of making reading/typing errors.

Use blinds or drapes to control the light from windows: Avoid veiling glare that is caused by direct light shining on the monitor screen, washing out the images.

Use of LED or fluorescent lighting is also suggested. Fluorescent or LED lighting is preferable to other types of office lighting. However you have to make sure that fluorescent lamp doesn't flicker. Another important aspect is to use light fixtures that have the same colour temperature. In computer rooms use of the

right type of lighting plus use of split keyboards are found to help employees work efficiently. Split keyboards divide the keyboard into two halves, each of which points slightly outwards.C The outward angle lets your wrists and forearmspoint inward without requiring

your elbows to come in as far, better conforming to the contours of your body. Conversely, thinner people may find a traditional "straight" keyboard more comfortable.

If lamps compliment office colours it would also help employees to work efficiently. Cool white lamps will enhance blues and greens; warm white lamps will enhance yellows and reds.


The following light-measures are also suggested to optimize lighting at the workplace. Just as any other lighting concept, lighting at the working place should be flexible and energy- saving. An optimal lighting depends on the visual task and requires botha balance of indirect and direct light sources, as well as a balance between daylight and artificial light.

Flexible application, energy saving and ergonomics are requirements that have to be met by modern lighting technologies. A combination of different types of lamps enables an individual illumination inrooms according to the visual tasks. Additionally, manufacturers provide energy-efficient LED bulbs.

One of the most important criterions for lighting at the work place is the respective work- and visual task. This decides on the choice of illuminants.

rIgHT IllumInanCe

The right light level at the

workplace avoids tiredness andlack of concentration. This can be regulated by the illuminance whichis measured in Lux (lx). A minimum of 500 Lux is stated for the brightness at computer work stations. Generally speaking, an increase in illuminance boosts the visual performance and positively influences the detailed and fast visual information processing. An illuminance between 500 and 1000 Lux can also be seen as stress-free.

The more complex the visual task is, the higher the illuminance requested. Additionally, person variables like the age are crucial for a final and overall evaluation of the chosen lighting concept. An illuminance between 750 and 1.000 Lux is saidto sustainably enhance the working performance of elder workers.

Mood lighting is often achieved by the illumination parameter light colour. In this regard a rendering index (CRI) is used as orientation. Indices from 90 Ra can be seenas natural values and are used

for example in connection withLED lights and fluorescent lamps. For a further characterization of illuminants and light sources, the light colour of fluorescent lamps is compared to the light colour and illuminance of light bulbs. This leads to the following classification of light colours: warm white, neutral white and bright white.

Also, effects of light and shadows decide on the lighting quality.

To achieve a balance betweennatural and artificial light andto avoid shadows and glare, it is recommendable to place lights parallel to the window and the working place. This coherence

was already pointed out by one of the first studies of the Ergonomic Institute (1997). If the visual comfort is directly compromised by light sources with a very high illuminance in the visual field, lighting experts refer to glare as a parameter of illumination. Reflection is the second phenomenon that negatively influences the lighting quality.

CombInIng lIgHT sourCes

The combination of different light sources contributes to a lighting concept that can be adapted to the different light requirements. The use of direct and indirect lighting in addition to a balanced day- and artificial light, is very important.

On the one hand, in offices andat computer work stations a veryhigh level of indirect lighting is recommended to support non-glaring. On the other hand, direct lighting provides the essential shadiness for a good illumination. That is the reason why combining both illumination techniques is vital.

Also, it is necessary to use appropriate bulbs for right illumination (general lighting), as they support the task lighting in the room. Lights with a movable luminaire head are highly recommended for a suitable lighting at the workplace. When both computer-assisted and other tasks have to be managed from one workplace, individually placed table lamps serve as additional light sources. At some working places dimmable lights can also be advantageous.

Lighting belongs to the major criteria of ergonomics in the workplace.

The term ergonomics is derived from the Greek expressions 'ergon' (engl. work) and 'nomos' (engl. law).

This scientific approach aims on designing the respective workplace and working environment to adaptto the needs of every single worker. The following lighting factors have a negative impact on the lighting at a working place and should be avoided. These factors are reflection, glare and shadows.

Common lIgHTIng

relaTed Problems

Knowing the common problems at workplaces will help to arrange lighting to preempt it or to find solutions if there is a problemInadequate lighting levels is oneof the most common problems

at workplaces. If the area where employees work is too dim or too bright, or the lighting fluctuates during the day because of bright sunlight it will cause major problems.

Reflected glare on computer screens is a problem reported by those who work with computers. In such cases when one looks at their computer screen, one could see bright objects reflected in the screen, such as lights, paper, or clothes worn by the operator.

Direct glare from light fixtures is another complaint raised often by those who work with computers. This means one could see bright objects reflected in the screen, such as lights, paper, etc.

Harsh lighting and shadows is a problem which affects work. Here the lighting shines straight down from the fixtures, making the ceiling look dim and the office look gloomy. Another sign is the lighting causes dark shadows on the faces of others in the roomVeiling glare also causes lotsof problems to those who use computers. The computer screen looks washed out because there is too much direct light falling onto the screen making it difficult to read.

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Publication:OER Dossier
Date:Sep 30, 2015
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