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Improving The Work Environment: Visible Light Assessment

Situation

No company should ignore the work environment that they provide to their employees. Recently, a longstanding client of G2’s requested a visible light assessment in two of their office call centers. Prior to this assessment, the client had replaced the standard fluorescent lights with LED overhead lights. Afterwards, complaints of headaches and discomfort associated with the new lighting was made from some of the employees in these areas. The purpose of this evaluation was to assess illumination levels in these two areas, and compare the results to regulatory and recommended guidelines established by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OR-OSHA), the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Energy Trust of Oregon.

Assessing Visible Light

This Visible Light Assessment conducted by G2 included using a direct-read light meter. Illumination levels, recorded in foot-candles (fc), are recorded in multiple areas within the location. With one particular client, the areas were throughout to call centers. Additionally, multiple employees were interviewed to discuss how they felt about the new lighting situation.

A variety of organizations, including the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OR – OSHA), and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) all have illumination level guidelines. These range between 30 and 100 fc for office environments. Most of the samples collected during the assessment fell between 30 and 50 fc.

According to the OR-OSHA, Subdivision J, 437-002-0144, there are specific guidelines:

  1. Adequate general and local light shall be provided for rooms, buildings, and work areas during times of use
  2. Factors upon which the adequacy and effectiveness for illumination shall be judged including the following:
    • The quality of light as specified in the ANSI “American standard practice for industrial lighting”
    • The quality of light in terms of freedom from glare, correct direction, diffusion, and distribution
    • Freedom from shadows and extreme contrasts
  3. All skylights, side windows, lamps, and other accessories that are necessary for illumination shall be kept clean and in working order

Recommendations to the Client

After conducting the assessment, G2 established recommendations for the client:

  • Continue to provide employees with the ability to voice their concerns regarding their work environments without actual or perceived retribution.
  • Ensure concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
  • Operational feasibility should be considered prior to making any special accommodations or corrective measures.
  • Lighting option should be discussed openly between management and employees prior to making changes.

With this particular client, illumination levels were found to be within the generally recommended guidelines. However, interviewing employees became critical to understand issues and identify the reasons for complaints. Illumination levels can affect people differently. Management needs to be aware of how changing environmental conditions can affect employees. Addressing the issue can provide a more comfortable environment for their workforce.

Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a visual light assessment for your company.

About the author: Noal Kraft
Noal is a Principal of G2 Consultants Inc. With over 27 years of professional experience in the Industrial Hygiene and Health and Safety industry. He has worked on thousands of projects throughout the U.S.