Workplace Comfort - Light levels

There has been a long and well documented association with lighting levels in the workplace and user satisfaction, health and productivity. The achieved levels of lighting for a user performing a particular task and the environment they are in all have an effect. Also, so does the type of lighting specified and used, the control occupants have over the light (locally and generally), the colour, contrast and possible glare as well as the availability and influence of daylight.

Guidance on what light should be achieved where within the workplace will vary from the designer's/architect's vision to the task and location, but the levels of light needed can vary considerably. As the HSE identifies “different activities require different levels of light. In general, the more detailed the task, the greater the light requirement. 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.”

Regulation 8 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which states:

8. (1) Every workplace shall have suitable and sufficient lighting.

(2) The lighting mentioned in paragraph (1) shall, so far as is reasonably practicable, be by natural light.

(3) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (1), suitable and sufficient emergency lighting shall be provided in any room in circumstances in which persons at work are especially exposed to danger in the event of failure of artificial lighting.

Lighting is also covered in the Display Screen Regulations and guidance includes HSG38 Lighting at Work (HSE), CIBSE and a range of manufacturers.

Other factors that can affect the actual levels of light being produced/experienced in the workplace can include its source and direction as well as the potential for glare etc. from other room surfaces or contrast when moving from one area to another in the building.

Either as an individual exercise or as part of a broader assessment of your building environment, we have the skills and experience to help you assess what the actual levels of light are for your employees. Having the accurate achieved levels of light better informs your decision making and whether or not issues exist, and what can be done to alleviate or better manage them.