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Lighting in work areas

Sufficient lighting is needed, whether it is from a natural or artificial source, to allow safe movement around the workplace and to allow workers to perform their job without having to adopt awkward postures or strain their eyes to see.

People have differing requirements for the level of lighting they need. Ideally workers will be able to adjust their lighting to suit their requirements.

Tips

  • Turn on the lights.
  • Use task lighting if required.
  • Use blinds or curtains for natural light control.

Potential harm

  • Headaches
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Eye strain

Identified hazards and controls

Slips trips and falls

Cause

  • Inability to see hazards where walking, due to inadequate lighting.

What workers can do

  • Turn on the light switch.
  • Stop and wait a moment for your eyes to adjust to low light before proceeding.
  • Report broken lights to your building maintenance team.

What employers can do

  • Consider installing motion-activated lights in low use areas.
  • Conduct a lighting audit to identify any issues.
  • Action maintenance issues promptly, such as blown lights.
  • Ensure emergency lighting is provided for the safe evacuation of people in the event of an emergency.

Headaches and eye strain

Cause

  • Glare from light sources, including light being reflected from walls, desks and other surfaces.
  • The visual demands of the activity or task performed.
  • Inadequate overhead lighting.
  • Barriers to light falling on work surfaces, such as overhead shelves.

What workers can do

  • Reposition the work to a better lit area of your desk or consider moving to another desk.
    Positioning the monitor either directly in front of or behind a window will result in glare on the monitor. If the monitor is at right angles to the window, glare is greatly reduced as it is angled away from your eyes.
  • Identify if your work area is in shadow and may require task lighting.
  • Consider getting your eyes tested if headaches are frequent.

What employers can do

  • Provide sufficient lighting, whether it is from a natural or artificial source, to allow workers to perform their job without having to strain their eyes to see.
    See recommended illumination (lux) levels for different classes of tasks and types of activities in Managing the Work Environment and Facilities Code of Practice 2015.
  • Provide staff with the ability to control and adjust natural light, such as blinds or curtains.
  • Observe workers to see where natural shadows fall when working.
  • Provide task lighting where required. Different activities require different levels and qualities of light.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)

Cause

  • When people find it difficult to see an object, they often lean closer to the object or bring it closer to their eyes. This can lead to an awkward posture.

What workers can do

  • Pay attention to your posture, take regular breaks, and change your posture.
  • Report lighting issues to you supervisor and property or facilities team.
  • If you can, take papers you need to read to an area better lit.

What employers can do

  • Provide good lighting at work to enable people to see clearly and perform their work safely.
    See recommended illumination (lux) levels for different classes of tasks and types of activities in Managing the Work Environment and Facilities Code of Practice 2015.
  • Provide staff with the ability to control and adjust natural light, such as blinds or curtains.
  • Provide task lighting where required. Different activities require different levels and qualities of light.
  • Ensure emergency lighting is provided for the safe evacuation of people in the event of an emergency.
Page last reviewed: 03 May 2021

Comcare (Office Safety tool)
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.comcare.gov.au

Date printed 26 Jun 2022

https://www.comcare.gov.au/office-safety-tool/spaces/work-areas/lighting