How Lighting Impacts Health and Safety For Your Business
Lighting can impact things like alertness and safety
We often take lighting for granted, and, because of this, we often only stop to think about lighting if the lighting is extreme – for example if we’re straining to read something in dim light or we’re momentarily blinded by sunlight when driving.
Lighting plays a big role in the workplace.
You might not think twice about how lighting affects your business, but in reality, lighting has a myriad of impacts on everything from mood to alertness, to how well you and your employees perform.
In this article, we’ll explain how lighting is essential for getting the most out of your business and your employees while ensuring you uphold the highest health and safety standards at all times.
Impact of lighting on mood
Seasonal Affective Disorder – also known as SAD – is a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year. It’s frequently encountered in climates where there is a significant drop in sunlight during the Winter and can include symptoms such as low mood, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, and social withdrawal.
However, it’s not just the natural lighting that impacts sufferers of SAD. Research indicates that inadequate lighting in indoor environments can also exacerbate the disorder. Our mood is dependent on the levels of lighting we encounter during a 24-hour period, so the presence of variable levels of natural light impacts our mood and nervous system in different ways than continuous, non-changing indoor lighting. Basically, poor lighting in the workplace can further impact those who suffer from SAD and other depressive disorders, or may even cause the onset of them.
Impact of lighting on alertness
Our biological clock is dependent on lighting, which is why some of us naturally wake up at dawn or in the early morning. Researchers have recently discovered photoreceptors in our eyes that have led to research into the importance of vertical illuminance (Berson 2002). This basically means that light and orientation affect the body’s levels of alertness, as your brain factors in the exposure to natural light and the orientation of the body. This is why dim lighting can cause drowsiness, while bright lighting at night time – such as smartphones – can make falling asleep more difficult, as the lighting suppresses melatonin production.
Impact of lighting on safety
Of course, inadequate lighting and dimly-lit workplaces are less safe for everyone in them. Employees are far more likely to slip, trip, or fall over in a workplace that isn’t brightly lit. This also ties in with alertness, as the poorer the lighting, the less alert people are likely to be, and, as a result, the more likely they are to have an accident or experience an injury.
Impact of lighting on performance
The role of lighting in certain jobs is plain to see. For example, a surgeon relies on bright lighting so they can see exactly what they’re doing, and a jeweller requires strong light to carry out their intricate work.
The bright light experienced during the day can have a positive impact on our motivation, morale, and productivity. For example, most of us find it a lot easier to get out of bed on a warm, sunny day rather than on a dark, damp morning. Insufficient light levels can have a negative impact on our concentration levels and can cause drowsiness, which means workers are more likely to make mistakes.
Ensuring the workplace is well-lit but that glare is reduced can improve cognitive and motor functions related to task performance, so employees are more likely to work to their full potential.
Workplaces can ensure maximum levels of well-being among employees by using a combination of daylight and electric lighting, as exposure to variable light is key to keeping our circadian rhythms working well.
Of course, natural light may not always be in abundance, and in these instances, employees should be encouraged to take regular outdoor breaks through walking meetings and long lunch breaks. Some workplaces also use the creative solution of artificial “circadian lighting” which mimics our circadian rhythms through using technologically advanced LED lighting that changes throughout the day as natural lighting does.
Tips for lighting your business
- Avoid fluorescent lighting: researchers have found that some fluorescent lighting falls outside of the safe range for ultraviolet radiation. They state that “fluorescent lighting may increase UV-related eye diseases by up to 12%.” They recommend instead the use of warm-white lamps which are less harsh on the eyes.
- Use daylight lighting: natural daylight is of course the best thing for your employees, but if this isn’t possible, the next best thing you can do is install daylight lights or circadian lighting. Lighting that mimics natural daylight can make employees more alert and ultimately more productive, however, it’s a good idea to ensure lighting changes throughout the day as lighting that is too strong could prevent your employees from getting a good night’s sleep.
- Encourage regular breaks: lighting is important, but nothing beats natural sunlight. That’s why it’s important to encourage employees to take regular breaks, or to have walking meetings where they can simultaneously work and experience the fresh air.
Lighting plays an extremely important role in the health and safety of your workplace and business, and it’s safe to say that not all lighting is created equal. Poor lighting can result in low mood, unproductiveness, tiredness, and low levels of concentration, as well as result in potential health issues and an increase in accidents.
Ensuring your lighting is circadian or that it mimics natural daylight is a fundamental way of maximizing the success of your business and ensuring high levels of well-being among your employees. You should also encourage regular breaks, particularly if they’re in front of a screen all day.
Ultimately, paying attention to the lighting in your workplace will pay for itself in time as it will increase alertness and performance among employees, ensure maximum productivity, and minimize the impact of mental health disorders.
Experience the benefits of LED lighting
LED lights can last between five and 50 times longer than conventional lighting. You could be making savings on your energy consumption of between 70% and 90%.
Eco Lighting Specialists offer a no capital outlay option whereby you will use a percentage of your savings each month to pay for the cost of installation.
LED lighting makes perfect sense in the longer term, but where you can also see rapid returns on your investment.
Make this change to your lighting and experience the financial, operational and ecological benefits.
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