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How lighting can have a massive impact on employee health

Healthy employees make for a happy and productive workplace. There are so many factors and variables to consider when looking to create a favourable place to work for employees, such as working hours, colleagues and workload and more. The actual environment itself also plays a massive part in creating a productive and healthy place of work for employees.

Whether it’s in an office, retail or factory environment, lighting can have a huge impact on employee health. Get the lighting right and you create a comfortable environment for your staff to thrive, but getting the lighting wrong can be detrimental to employee health.

Here are a range of ways employees can be affected by poor lighting.

Eye strain

If adequate lighting is not provided, over time, eye strain will become a common problem. For example, in an office, if staff are working on computers all day, poor lighting can often cause glare on the screens which causes eye strain and headaches.

If a work environment is too dim, people have to strain to see what they’re doing, and this can occur in any workplace. A study has found that “workers in daylit office environments reported an 84% drop in symptoms of eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision symptoms.” So it’s also about what type of light is provided.

Sleep

Various studies over the years have highlighted and confirmed how important natural light is to the human sleep cycle. Exposure to more light during the day and less light at night is critical for healthy sleep patterns which means for employees to get a good night’s sleep and remain healthy, they need access to natural light, especially in the morning (between 8am and 12pm). Furthermore, office workers who are exposed to high levels of light all day, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., report lower levels of sleep disturbance.

Mood

Lighting can play a huge role in employee mood. Studies have shown that harsh, fluorescent lighting can make employees feel tired, irritable and unable to concentrate. Access to natural light controls our circadian rhythms and spending long periods of time, such as doing 9-5 shifts, in places where there are no windows and no natural light can disrupt this rhythm. Abnormal circadian rhythms have been associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Tips to ensure a work environment is suitably lit

Lighting should provide enough illumination so that people can clearly read printed or handwritten documents but not be so bright that it causes glare and discomfort.

Where possible, maximise natural light in the workplace with windows and by positioning work stations next to natural light for employees. Blinds can be fitted to the windows so employees can adjust the lighting conditions as and when they need.

To reduce glare, avoid pointing lamps directly on computer screens, adjust the brightness of screens and angle screens correctly. Additionally, glare reduction window films can be installed which allow natural light to shine through whilst simultaneously reducing glare. Depending on which glare reduction window film is chosen, glare can be reduced by up to 90%.

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