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The Journal for Employee Protection
The Journal for Employee Protection
by Cynthia L Roth
Whether in industrial or office settings, proper lighting makes all work tasks easier and safer. People receive about 85 percent of their information through their sense of sight.
Appropriate lighting, without glare or shadows, can reduce eye fatigue and headaches. It highlights moving machinery and other safety hazards. It also reduces the chance of accidents and injuries from ‘momentary blindness’ while the eyes adjust to brighter or darker surroundings.
The ability to see at work depends not only on lighting but also on:
How much daylight reaches inside a building depends on the amount and direction of sunlight, cloud cover, local terrain, and the season. The size, orientation and cleanliness of the windows is also important. The amount of daylight entering the workplace can be controlled with tinted glass, window blinds, curtains, and awnings. Daylight is desirable in the workplace providing it does not cause glare or make the work area too bright. Remember, not enough light can also be a problem so even in workplaces where daylight is available, it is essential to have a good electric lighting system.
The amount of light, the colour of the light itself and the colour that objects appear vary with the type of electric lighting. The lighting must match the workplace and the task.
There are three basic types of lighting:
General lighting provides fairly uniform lighting. An example would be ceiling fixtures that light up large areas. Localised-general lighting uses overhead fixtures in addition to ceiling fixtures to increase lighting levels for particular tasks. Local, or task lighting increases light levels over the work and immediate surroundings. Local lighting often allows the user to adjust and control lighting and provides flexibility for each user.
The complete lighting unit (also called the light fixture, or luminaires) controls and distributes the light. Various types of light fixtures are designed to distribute light in different ways. These fixtures are known as:
No single type of light fixture is appropriate in every situation. The amount and quality of lighting required for a particular workstation or task will determine which light fixture is most suitable. Direct light fixtures project 90 to 100 percent of their light downward towards the work area. Direct lighting tends to create shadows. Direct-indirect light fixtures distribute light equally upwards and downwards. They reflect light off the ceiling and other room surfaces. Little light is emitted horizontally, meaning direct glare is often reduced. They are usually used in ‘clean’ manufacturing areas.
Indirect light fixtures distribute 90 to 100 percent of the light upward. The ceiling and upper walls must be clean and highly reflective to allow the light to reach the work area. They provide the most even illumination of all the types of fixtures and the least direct glare. Indirect light fixtures are usually used in offices. Shielded light fixtures use diffusers, lenses and louvers to cover bulbs from direct view, thereby helping to prevent glare and distribute light.
Parabolic louvers are specially shaped grids that concentrate and distribute light LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs are now on the market. They use 85% less energy and last up to 20 years longer. LED lighting presents a new, more environmentally friendly option. It’s long lasting and can save you money over an extended period. These lights are heavier than other lighting options, and the bulb is on average a little taller than a standard light bulb; however, the base can fit in standard light sockets. These lights will keep going long after incandescent and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) would have stopped working, and they’ll save you money on your electrical bill. They are more expensive but the return on investment is huge.
The incandescent light bulb has been the standard lighting option for nearly 100 years. In recent decades, the CFL has gained popularity because it’s more energy efficient and lasts longer. The bulb contains mercury, however, and takes a while to shine at its brightest – and is expensive for disposal. On average, about a dozen watts from energy efficient LED bulbs provides the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent. This means you save on electricity without scrimping on the amount of light you have.
When you’re shopping for an LED light bulb, it’s important to find one that provides the amount of light you need, as well as the colour of light you like. You’ll also want to consider how the light emits from the bulb, and the dimension of the bulb and base.
To detect insufficient light, try the following:
Workers should sit in their normal working positions during measurement to give you accurate results. To correct insufficient light:
Glare is a common lighting problem. Glare is what happens when a bright light source or reflection interferes with how you are ‘seeing’ an object. In most cases, your eyes will adapt to the brightest level of light. When this adaptation happens, it becomes harder to see the details in the duller or darker areas of the work space (even though they are actually sufficiently lit). Glare can cause annoyance and discomfort, and can actually decrease a person’s ability to see.
There are several ways to find sources of glare:
To correct glare, try:
When light is poorly distributed, parts of the ceiling and general surroundings will seem dark and gloomy. Substantial differences in light levels force your eyes to readjust when moving from one light level to another. Workers may find it difficult or impossible to see properly.
You can detect poorly distributed light by:
Correct for poorly distributed light by:
A complete lighting survey may be needed to identify and solve more subtle or complicated problems. A complete lighting survey requires complex equipment and practical experience. A complete basic lighting survey includes the following:
The cost factor of industrial lighting is one that weighs heavily on employers, particularly in these troubled economic times. Too often saving on the lighting of industrial workplaces means compromising on safety and reducing productivity due to poorer working conditions.
Published: 01st Sep 2012 in Health and Safety International
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