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Ask the Expert: Lighting Levels

Categories: Ask the Expert, Interior Refurbishment, Office Furniture, Office Layouts, Space Planning
Posted on: September 10, 2014 1:25 pm

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In the third blog of our ‘Ask The Expert’ series, we focus on lighting levels.  If you are wondering what lighting level is needed for your office, here is our handy guide:

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines recommend different levels of lighting for different types of work, for example, close, accurate work such as soldering a control panel will require higher light levels than walking down a corridor. However, when considering lighting, a number of different factors need to be considered such as colour, contrast, glare and so on as lighting an environment is often a complex task principally considered during the design stage of the building (by architects and interior designers). Lighting should be designed for the tasks that individuals are carrying out within that environment. Guides to lighting can seem very complex, technical documents, but employers can take some simple steps to ensure people have adequate lighting to carry out their tasks.

In general, the more detailed the task, the greater the light requirement, for example, a process control room should be lit at an illuminance of 300 lux, a corridor or walkway may only require 50 lux, whilst studying an engineering drawing may require 750 lux (see HSG38 Lighting at Work).  Where individuals are carrying out different activities, they will need control over their local lighting e.g. a control and instrumentation engineer coming into a process control room lit at 300 lux may need a desk with a lamp to study a wiring diagram.

Studies have shown that giving workers in open plan offices local control of lighting can increase job satisfaction (and decrease the experience of stress).

Directional sources of light can bounce off reflective surfaces such as display screens and cause glare. Using blinds, correcting the angle of the source of light and using glare filters can help control this, as can use of e.g. up-lighting as all sources of light have a particular colour. Some of these, such as sodium, can make coloured text and diagrams difficult to read.

Sudden contrasts in light levels e.g. coming out of a well-lit area into a dark area or vice versa can be a problem because it takes the eye several seconds to adapt to new lighting conditions. Changes in lighting levels should be made gradually where possible.  Generally lighting is designed when the workplace is empty and without consideration of the shadows cast by equipment.

More information on lighting

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