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The Importance of Proper Lighting

March 31, 2021

Why Proper Lighting in the Workplace Is Important

Lighting ergonomics plays a key role when completing tasks in the workplace. Appropriate lighting can reduce eye fatigue and headaches, which makes completing tasks easier.

In particular, good lighting ergonomics can prevent computer vision syndrome (CVS), which is a type of eye strain that occurs when you use a computer for a long period of time. CVS symptoms include:

  • Blurred and double vision
  • Eye irritation (e.g., dry and red eyes)
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Back and neck pain

The quality of lighting in your workplace can significantly impact your productivity. Notably, the type of lighting you need is based on the type of work you are doing and the location of your computer—every worker requires a unique amount of light.

As such, it’s important to design your workstation to fit your individual needs, accounting for the following common lighting issues.

Bright Lights

Bright lights shining around your screen can make it difficult to read or see the work you are doing. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends the following to help protect your eyes and improve your work conditions:

  • Turn off some of the fluorescent bulbs above your work area, or have them removed.
  • Use task lighting to illuminate writing and reading tasks as well as limit brightness around your monitor.
  • Use glare guards to reduce or eliminate glare on your screen.

Excessive Background Lighting

Excessive background lighting can create contrast on your screen, which can strain your eyes. Possible solutions include:

  • Moving your computer so that sources of light are at right angles to your computer screen
  • Using blinds or drapes on the windows to eliminate light

Reflected Light

Reflected light from the overhead lights or other surfaces, such as keyboards or walls, can create a glare and affect your ability to see your screen. Possible solutions for reflected light include:

  • Tilting your monitor down to prevent the reflected light from hitting your computer
  • Selecting a matte-finished keyboard

Improper Lighting in the Workplace

When working in almost any industry, proper lighting is key to preventing employee injuries. Specifically, improper lighting can create the following exposures:

  • Ergonomic Issues
  • Worker Error
  • Tripping Hazards

Ergonomic issues

Poor lighting could force employees to adopt awkward postures to better see what they are doing.

Worker error

Poor lighting increases the possibility of employee mistakes. When working with potentially dangerous tools, a simple mistake can cause serious injuries.

Tripping hazards

Poor lighting can lead to slips, trips and falls, which may cause serious injuries to your employees.

To protect your staff from injuries related to poor lighting, maintain overall ambient light levels. In addition, provide task lighting to eliminate shadows. 

To further ensure the safety of your workers, clean existing lights, and paint walls and floors a light colour to improve light reflection.

Talk to your supervisor if you have concerns about lighting at work.