Workplace Eye Health. Light in the workplace.
In the creation, it’s what God made first.
You can see it but can’t feel or touch it. Prosaically, it’s radiation within a certain portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Us humans see it through our eyes, which are clever photon detectors tuned to observe the visible spectrum.
As we inch closer to fully understanding light, we are already investigating its quirky properties.
For example, to develop new kinds of encryption codes and next-generation computers.
In a building, light has both form and function – from the intimate restaurant to the intensity of a hospital theatre.
Or from the serenity of a cathedral to the floodlit arena of a football stadium.
Light possesses absolute functionality with the power to change ambience and transform mood.
However, we can still take light for granted. Too often, particularly in the workplace, its primary importance is still undervalued.
It’s why in March the USA marks Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month, to raise awareness of eye strain in the workplace.
Nature of work
Good building design balances form and function. A building should look good from the outside and perform well on the inside.
However, every building needs light to function – both natural and artificial – and we need the right kind of light to function properly.
That’s particularly important in today’s offices because the nature of work has changed in recent years.
We no longer go to an office to move paper from one horizontal in-tray to another horizontal out-tray.
The laptop and desk-top computer, with their horizontal keyboards and vertical screens, have seen to that.
Building design has certainly evolved to take the computer into consideration with, for example, raised floors and large open-plan spaces.
However, what is sometimes not fully recognised is that the lighting requirements of the computer operator have also changed. A computer terminal, apart from being vertical, is glossy and luminous.
Studies show that many office workers say that eyestrain is still a serious health hazard in the office.
Not surprising as many workplaces still incorporate lighting systems that were designed for the paper-based office.
Simply, poor lighting coming from overhead sources are reflected off computer screens and into the operator’s eyes.
Earlier this year, the USA marked Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month. In a two-part article, Chris Peters, our chief design manager, looks at light in the workplace.
In the second half of this article, he’ll look at what the regulations say.
Pictures: Chris Peters (main) and a member of staff with full-face protection.