Optimum lighting conditions protect your eyes, head and neck
Spring: The sun shines into your office; you are dazzled by the bright light reflecting off your screen. The result: You squint to see, and reading becomes difficult. After a short while, you realise: You can’t work like this. So, what do you do? Lower the blinds? Why do they even build office buildings with windows? As one of only a few sun control experts, certified civil engineer Peter Krautwald has focussed on this topic for 15 years. He explains how we can prevent ourselves from being dazzled without creating further problems. We spoke to him and discussed several tips for perfecting workstation lighting.
Mr Krautwald, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued a report on sun protection and daylight utilization in office workplaces that called for glare protection to be installed at every workstation. What demands must glare protection of this kind fulfil?
Workstation glare protection must protect the worker from being dazzled and from daylight reflecting off the computer screen. It must also shield against heat and be individually adjustable to allow workers to set up the workstation glare protection exactly as they need it. One very important, and often overlooked, basic requirement is that workstation glare protection must always “allow an unobstructed view of the outside”, as is stated in the report.
So workers using a screen must also be able to see outside at all times – why is this so important?
The human eye is naturally adapted to distance. When we work on a screen, our eye muscles bring the image into sharp focus. Like any muscle, they tire after a certain amount of time. We need to look into the distance, i.e. outside, to relax them. If we cannot do this, these muscles become weaker and weaker and we can no longer focus on the screen. To compensate for the loss of sharpness, we move our heads closer and closer to the screen millimetre by millimetre until we end up hunched over in front of the computer.
Sitting hunched over doesn’t sound very ergonomic.
Right. This posture can lead to eye strain, a sore neck and back pain. It can increase the likelihood of slipped discs and cataracts and result in us needing glasses earlier than would otherwise have been the case. For this reason, the 90/270/EEC guideline states that every person who works seated at a screen must be provided with effective workstation glare protection to fulfil the minimum occupational health and safety requirements.
Many companies already take this into consideration, though, don’t they? You rarely see a modern office building without sunshades outside the windows.
Yes, I agree, but external sunshades generally obstruct a free view of the outside. And if workstation glare protection shades have been installed outside that are truly effective and also provide an unobstructed view, there is still a problem: They are freely exposed to the weather and automatically retract once a certain wind speed is reached. And that’s the end of your glare protection.
But strong winds mainly occur in winter. And we mostly need workstation glare protection in summer, don’t we?
I would like to answer your question with one of my own: When does the sun dazzle you the most when driving? In summer, when it is high, or in winter, when it is low and shines through below the sun visor?
I see what you mean: Workstation glare protection is not only a summer issue.
Right. Workstation glare protection is important all year round. At this time of year, the sun shines into the building from very low down and dazzles us worse than in summer with natural shade. Spring can bring relatively strong winds; remember storm Sabine and hurricane Victoria. No exterior sunshade can withstand wind speeds of this kind.
So, what solution would you recommend for workstation glare protection that is unaffected by the weather?
I would recommend interior glare protection using sun control film systems. They are usually attached to the interior window frame and can be rolled up or pulled down as required. They are designed to keep out light and heat but are transparent enough to allow workers to see outside at any time. For this reason, this glare protection system is the only one on the market that is recommended by the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
If the workstation glare protection blocks the light, will there still be enough to work by?
Yes, the workstation glare protection is specially designed to provide sufficient light. However, particularly in spring, the weather can fluctuate between sunny and cloudy periods. And nobody wants to roll the glare protection up and down every two minutes – we’d never get anything done. So, in working conditions like this, screen-based workstations must be well illuminated by artificial light as a supplement to natural light. The artificial light should be as similar as possible to natural light.
Mr Krautwald, many thanks for the interview!
Optimum workstation lighting with Attenzia space
Light has a huge impact on humans: When the sun shines more frequently in spring, our mood improves immediately and our motivation increases, both at work and in leisure time. Biological research has proven that the Vitamin D that our bodies produce in sunlight has a positive effect on our wellbeing.
The Novus Attenzia space lamp series is available in two light colours at 3000 and 4000 Kelvin and unites optimum lighting conditions with functionality: These desk lamps provide a multitude of benefits for improved wellbeing at the workstation. The special premium Novus Attenzia space active HCL light combines a slender design, created by Georg Kaluza, with Human Centric Lighting (HCL) technology. This increases efficiency, boosts concentration, improves health and ensures that workplaces are ideally illuminated. The lights are equipped with rotatable panels that swivel by 270° to imitate daylight: They can generate both direct and indirect light to give the impression that the sun is shining in onto your desk. Choose the perfect light to optimise the lighting conditions at your workstation!
Overview of the benefits of the Novus Attenzia space series:
- Flexible and individual adjustment at your workstation
- Intelligent lighting control with biodynamic light provided by the Novus Attenzia space active HCL
- Presence and light sensors for improved energy consumption (Attenzia space plus, Attenzia space XT, Attenzia space active HCL)
- Modern LED technology with LED panels rotatable by 270° for better workstation illumination
- Various light colours from cold white to warm white
- Modern, minimalist and outstanding design
- Individual mounting options using a system clamp, cable port mount or stand – for easy installation at any desk