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Illumination of workstations

Good illumination at the workplace is intended to support a good view and to prevent accidents and too strong a strain on the eyes

Illumination of workstations directly affects employees and is relevant in the field of industrial safety and health. In this context, current challenges, such as the non-visual effects of light are also taken into consideration, in addition to classic factors such as visual function and visual comfort.

Illumination at the workplace serves to improve the visual process and of prevent accidents and too strong a strain on the eyes. For example, too low a light intensity, apparent blinding, or a non-uniform illumination may cause nervous strains, visual fatigue, and a general reduction of safety and commitment. Accordingly, good illumination contributes to the promotion of activity and well-being of employees, which has positive effects on their performance and commitment. Industrial safety and health requirements regarding the illumination of workstations mainly refer to aspects of visual function and the avoidance of visual discomfort and visual fatigue, respectively.

Protection goals to be met in the field of illumination of workstations are defined in the Workplaces Ordinance. Furthermore, the technical rules for workplaces (ASR) specify the requirements of the Workplaces Ordinance (ArbStättV).

Along with visual light effects, such as visual function and visual comfort, so-called non-visual light effects are increasingly gaining the centre stage regarding industrial safety and health. The research work conducted in the field of non-visual light effects has established a direct link between light and health. Non-visual effects describe the influence of light on physiology, mood, and behaviour. Furthermore, non-visual light effects are closely connected to factors of psychic health in the world of work.

The discovery of blue light-sensitive photoreceptor cells in the human eye constituted the starting point for applying non-visual light effects. When these cells are activated using blue light, an attentive and alert condition is created. Daylight provides the biological clock with the necessary information on the time of day and thereby allows for adapting important body functions to the external environment. Accordingly, the body uses light information for adapting the core body temperature, for releasing stress hormones in the morning, or for suppressing dark hormones in the evening and at night, for example.

How these new findings can be taken into consideration regarding the illumination of workstations is currently being discussed intensively. More detailed information on this can be found in the Commission for Occupational Health and Safety and Standardization (Kommission Arbeitsschutz und Normung, KAN) position paper on the topic of artificial, biologically efficient illumination in standardisation.

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