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EVALUATION OF A WORKSTATION LIGHTING

CONDITIONS
Magalhes, A., Macedo, E., Machado, F., Ferreira, J., Monteiro, J., Alves, L., Basto, L.,
Ferrete, L., Mota, R.
Mestrado Integrado em Engenharia e Gesto Industrial, Universidade do Minho
Campus de Azurm, 4800-058 Guimares
Abstract
The space in question, a co-work space located on Factory in Braga, was chosen
for being in a retracted position relative to the single point of natural light,
therefore presented some challenges regarding lighting. On this basis, an
illuminance study was carried out, with the aim of trying to understand if it
provides all the necessary conditions in terms of lighting and if there are marked
differences in lighting between station 1, which had always made part of that
space, and station 2 that was created recently. The methodology fell on the
lighting parameters defined in ISO 8995, which affect the quality of lighting work
space. Therefore, in addition to interviews with three users of the space, it was
filled one checklist. Furthermore were measured illuminance values at various
points and analyzed relevant factors such as distribution of light, glare,
directionality of light, color of light, color surfaces, the psychodynamic of colors,
flickering, natural lighting and maintenance.
At the end of this study it was concluded that station 1 shows all the necessary
conditions. Station 2, which results from an adjustment, did not show the same
level of study, therefore is not offering the same conditions as can be seen in
illuminance values measured in this work.
Keywords
Illuminance, Workspace, Light, Ergonomics, Engineering, Station

1. INTRODUCTION
People receive about 85% of information through sight. Being in an industrial
environment or office environment, appropriate lighting conditions make easier,
efficient and secure jobs. The use of suitable light sources can create a correct light
ambience, respecting the health and visual comfort.
There are two types of lighting: natural and artificial. According to Arezes and Miguel
(2007), "the ideal lighting is the provided by natural light. However and for practical
reasons, the use of natural light is very limited, so there is the need to use
altogether artificial light."
Good lighting conditions require not only focus on quantity, but also the quality of it.
While providing a sufficient illuminance is always necessary, in other cases the
visibility depends on how the light is distributed, the color characteristics of the light
source and the combination of surfaces and brightness of the system. A good visual
environment is characterized by having enough light from the right direction, not
causing shadows, providing good contrast, limiting glare and excessive contrasts
and providing proper color reproduction. These parameters, according to ISO 8995,
include:
1.1 Distribution of light
Light distribution in the field of view controls the adaptation level of the eyes, which
affects task visibility. It is necessary a balanced light adaptation to increase:
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- Visual acuity (sharpness of vision)


- Contrast sensitivity (discrimination of small differences in luminance)
- The efficiency of the ocular functions (such as accommodation, pupil contraction,
eye movements, etc.).
It is possible to detect poorly distributed light by:
- Looking for dark areas and uneven light
- Using a light meter to verify illumination at various points along the workspace.
With uniform general lighting, the minimum measured value must not be less than
two-thirds of the average value.
To correct poorly distributed light:
- Supplement or replace the fixtures by others that distribute light up
- Paint ceiling and walls in light colors that make light reflection
- Make regular cleaning of ceiling, walls and fixtures
To achieve appropriate levels of light and a uniform distribution of light in the visual
space, many light fixtures are designed to reflect the light on the walls, ceilings and
objects. The amount of light reflected on a surface can be measured. In an office
work space, the light reflected in the percentages suggested surfaces are:
- Curtains / blinds (40/50%)
- Walls (50% maximum)
- Ceiling (70/80%)
- Floor (20/40%)
- Furniture (25-45%)
- Machinery and equipment (50% maximum)
1.2 Illuminance
Illuminance and its distribution in work areas and surrounding areas directly
influences speed, comfort and safety with which a person performs a task of visual
character. In spaces where total area is unknown, the area where work is performed
is called as work area. According to ISO 8995, good lighting of the workplace is
essential for tasks to be performed with ease (without eye strain), comfortably and
safely. Lighting should ensure quantitative aspects and quality required by the work
environment, so as to ensure visual comfort, visual performance and safety visual.
1.3 Glare
Glare is a recurrent lighting problem and is characterized by difficulty seeing in the
presence of an intense glow. In most cases, eyes fit into the brightest light levels.
When this adaptation occurs, it is difficult to see the details in darker areas of the
workspace (although these are sufficiently lit). According to studies from Canadian
Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, glare can cause irritation and discomfort
and may decrease the ability of the individual to see. There are two types of glare:
reflected and direct. Reflected glare is caused by:
- Light reflected by shiny surfaces.
- Glass in frames or windows at night.
- Monitors and screens.
Direct glare is caused by:
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- Very bright light from poorly positioned light fixtures.


- Sunlight.
Indirect glare can be caused by existing surfaces in the workspace, such as
computer screens, furniture elements, or glossy paper. To avoid indirect reflections,
one must have attention not only to the type of fixtures and their distribution, but
also to the materials and finishes used in furniture (glossy) and components of the
space (or glass surfaces with bright colors), and positioning computer screens. Thus,
light sources must be properly distributed so as to be outside the field of vision of
workers and no light source should be visible within an angle of 30 above the
horizontal line vision of the occupants. General lighting in the ceiling should be
parallel to the windows, so the positioning of workplaces is perpendicular to the light
sources. Windows should have strip or bar blinds, allowing light input control.

Figure 1. a) e b) reflected glare; c) direct glare (adapted from


http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/lighting_survey.html).

For glare detection in normal working position, one should look to a distant object at
eye level and block the light path with a book or card. If the object is far easier to
view, then the fixtures will produce glare. To detect reflected glare, one should look
for the task in the usual work position and block the light coming from above or in
front. If details are easier to see, then there are problems with the reflection.
1.4 Directionality of light
Without light we have no sense of three-dimensionality of objects. Without shadows
we see images with just two dimensions. The parameters that define the thickness,
topography and objects shape are the direction of light and modeling, because light
and shadow interact, modeling objects, giving the perception of their shape, their
size and their thick.
Modeling refers to the balance between direct light and diffuse light. A lighted space
only by scattered light becomes a space where objects are barely visible with
respect to its shape and thickness. This lack of spatial orientation lines and judging
distances causes discomfort. A 1:2 ratio between direct and indirect light provides a
pleasant lighting.
The incident light in a certain direction reveals task details, increases visibility,
which improves performance. However, when lighting system is direct, or when
there is direct sunlight, one should avoid direct or indirect reflects and control
shadows in the workplace. To achieve this there must be taken attention to aspects
such as the positioning of the light sources, according to stations. To avoid shadows
and reflections, light sources (windows and lamps) should not be positioned behind
the station.
1.5 Aspects related to the color of light and surfaces

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Each time there is a greater concern regarding to how a workspace is thought. All
human activities, especially work, suffer the influence of three aspects: physical,
cognitive and psychological. Therefore, colors must not be chosen purely for its
aesthetic component, but taking into account the effect it produces in space and
user.
The color qualities of a near-white lamp are characterized by two attributes:
- The lamp color appearance,
- Its color rendering capabilities, which affect the color appearance of objects and
persons illuminated by lamp.
These two attributes must be considered separately. Light color appearance that is
emitted by a source is called "color temperature". The measurement unit for color
temperature is Kelvin [K] and the correspondence is made as follows:
- Up to 3000 K color temperature, as a warm white;
- Between 3000 K and 5000 K, as intermediate blank;
- From the 5000 K, as cold white.
The choice of color appearance is a matter of psychology, aesthetics and what is
considered natural. The choice depends on illuminance, room colors and furniture,
the surrounding climate and the application. In hot climates, it is usually preferred
color appearance of colder light, and in cold climates a color appearance of warmer
light. Concerning the representation of color, it is important for visual performance
feeling of comfort and well-being that the colors of objects and human skin is
naturally represented, correctly and in a way that makes people look attractive and
healthy.
Safety colors, according to ISO 3864, will always be recognizable and easily
discriminated. To provide an objective statement of the properties of the
representation of the color of a light source, coloring rendering index concept is
introduced - CRI. The maximum CRI value is 100. This value decreases with
decreasing quality color reproduction. Lamps with CRI less than 80 should not be
used indoors where people work or remain for long periods.
To ensure good lighting it has to be a balance between the color temperature of light
sources used and the local illuminance. If one increases the value of illuminance it is
better to opt for light sources with a higher color temperature. Table 1 shows the
relationship between different values of illuminance and color fluorescent lamps.
Table 1. Variation of subjective impression with tone and illuminance (retrieved from Arezes,
P., Miguel, A. 2007).

Light Tone

Illuminance (lx)
500

Warm

Intermediate

Cold

Warm

Neutral

Cold

Stimulant

Warm

Neutral

Artificial

Stimulant

Cold

500 1000
1000 2000
2000 3000
3000
1.6 Flicker
Flicker causes distraction and may arise physiological effects such as headaches.
Lighting system should be designed to avoid flicker and stroboscopic effect.
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According to Arezes and Miguel (2007), fluorescent lamps, because operate with
alternating current, produce flicker at its respective frequency (50 Hz). However, this
flickering is not usually visible to humans but it may manifest as stroboscopic effect
in moving machinery parts.
1.7 Natural light
Natural light is one of the most important energy sources for humans to develop
their activities, for it is what provides a clear view of the world. Every living being
depends on the exposure to natural light to activate the cycle physiological
functions, including the circadian day/night cycle. Natural light triggers the synthesis
of hormones that promotes sleep and other bodily functions. Natural lighting is
provided by the existence of windows, or glass surfaces, fitted in the side surfaces of
the rooms or ceiling. The entry of sunlight through these surfaces should be
regulated in order to avoid direct or indirect glare (glare and reflections) in the
environment work and should therefore be equipped with adjustable blinds or
curtains. Similarly, to avoid the sunlight, computer screens should be installed
perpendicular to the windows and under no circumstances the worker must receive
sunlight directly in the eye. To avoid reflections on the computer screen, the
workstation must be positioned so as not to have windows behind.
According to Majoros (1998), the positive aspects of natural light have to do with the
quality of obtained lighting, better than the quality of artificial light, because human
vision developed with natural light. On the other hand, the constant change of the
amount of natural light in time and space is favorable as it provides stimulating
effects on environment. However, it is also necessary to know its drawbacks, such as
directionality and high intensity, because, according to Amorim (2002), the biggest
disadvantage of natural light is its unpredictability. Before its drawbacks, artificial
light has become essential to create the best work and environment conditions,
bridging the difficulties of working only with natural light.
1.8 Maintenance
The recommended lighting levels for each task are provided in accordance with the
level of care illuminance maintenance. Illuminance maintenance depends on the
maintenance of lamps characteristics, light fixtures, space and maintenance plan.
The lighting scheme should be designed with a general factor of maintenance
calculated for the selected light equipment, workspace and maintenance schedule
specified.
According to Arezes and Miguel (2007), another important aspect to consider is the
group substitution of fluorescent lamps. The ideal time for global replacement
occurs when it reaches 60-75% of its useful likely life. From this value, its reliability
rapidly decreases.
This work falls within the scope of describing and evaluating the adequate supply of
lighting of an office work.

2. METHODOLOGY
The work place was a wPod with seating for 3-4 people in the Factory, an area of coworking in Braga. This choice was due to the availability and ease of access to the
site because of one of the authors of this study develops his work there.
As can be seen from figures 2 and 3, the work space is composed of two different
stations: at station 1 (Blokk) situated in the central zone of figure 3, there is a
surface where three to four users have their computers, documents, and other
accessories. Station 2 (Daydreams) is located on the left side of figure 3, which is
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individual, adapted and has a laptop and a few accessories. As previously


mentioned, the space is used by two companies, Daydreams and Blokk. The first
one is a creative agency and the second a company of Civil Engineering projects.
Daydreams, which occupies the second station, as it is a creative agency with a
strong digital component, has its activity based 100% on computer use, sometimes
aided by a design table, which does not depend on visual contact with the same, but
eye contact with the computer screen. In case of Blokk, which occupies station 1,
has two permanent workers, and the development of Civil Engineering projects also
depends almost entirely on computer use, at least regarding to the work done in the
workspace under review.
Activities such as printing and cutting the plants are performed outside the
workspace. In both activities developed by companies, there is great flexibility both
in terms of time and breaks, as each worker is free to make their own schedule
based on the delivery dates of each project. It remains to add that the workspace in
question is framed in a co-work environment which makes activities such as
meetings be held in rooms built for that purpose.

Figure 2. wPod from Daydreams e Blokk.

Figure 3. Workstation interior.

After this phase, and with the initial idea to study the physical environment,
appeared the first difficulty: the study could focus on occupational noise exposure,
thermal environment or illuminance. Through direct observation, during a
preliminary visit to the place of study, it was decided to address the issue of
illuminance, since it was found that natural lighting is quite small, a factor that can
affect psychologically and physiologically some workers. Verified this, a thorough
study of local lighting conditions could identify and assess risk factors. Thus, the
purpose of the present study was to evaluate the lighting conditions of a workstation
and suggest possible improvements, to ensure the safety and comfort of workers.
After choosing the topic of this study, it was necessary to establish the parameters
that affect the conditions of lighting, and gather some information about the study
site. Overall, the lighting should confer visual comfort, well-being, visual
performance, ie to keep the task execution ability with speed and accuracy over long
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periods, and visual security, particularly regarding the detection of hazards. As


mentioned previously, the study site practically does not enjoy natural light, and
lighting is artificially assured. According to Arezes and Miguel (2007), the quality of
artificial lighting of a work environment depends crucially on:
- Of its adequacy for the type of planned activity
- Glare limitation
- Convenient distribution of lamps
- Matching the color of light with the prevailing spot colors
To meet all these criteria, one needs to be aware and set all the parameters that
contribute to the desired lighting conditions. As mentioned above, according to ISO
8995, it was studied parameters such as, distribution of light, illuminance, glare,
directionality of light, aspects related to the color of light and surfaces, flicker,
natural light and maintenance.
Thus, careful observation to the workspace was made. Taking into account the
above aspects, it was given special attention to factors such as light sources, wall
colors, appearance and type of materials, existence of reflections, glare and
shadows, area and space format. Similarly, it was made some questions to the three
workers that were present on the activities they develop, and if they felt some kind
of visual discomfort such as blurred vision, eye irritability, muscle and/or head pain,
stress and focusing problems.
The jobs with computer must meet certain principles such as: the display must be
adjustable and provide a stable image; the chair must be adjustable to the user's
height; the computer must be placed on a stable surface, with enough space for the
keyboard, mouse and documents, to enable a comfortable position of the wrists; the
monitor should be positioned below the line of sight of the horizon; the distance
between the user and the monitor should be about 30 cm; the user must take
breaks while working for long periods of time with the computer; the monitor should
have anti-glare features and positioned to avoid glare on the screen. After
verification, it was found that all these principles were respected, except for
monitors used in station 1, which are not anti-reflectives.
There is an indirect lighting system near the air conditioning that casts light upwards
and illuminates the entire workspace. For station 1 there are three fluorescent lamps
which provide direct lighting, whereas station 2 has a combined illumination via a
small LED focus.
The 3 workers present during the visits have ages between 28 and 32 years, with no
vision problems and no complaints about visual discomfort. Therefore age or
individual characteristics of each worker were not taken into account to issues
related to visual performance and lighting conditions. Additionally, it was filled in the
adapted document "Lighting Ergonomics - Checklist" available on the Canadian
Centre for Occupational Health and Safety site.
Finally, it was necessary to measure the illuminance values. For this purpose, it was
used a light meter, having three distinct points measured at each workstation. Then
it was calculated the average illuminance (Im) for each job according to the equation
1:

Im

measurements

number _ of _ measurements

(1)

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3. ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF RESULTS


3.1 Checklist
Table 2 shows the information collected through the use of the checklist mentioned
above.
Table 2. Checklist (adapted from
http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/lighting_checklist.html).

General
Enough light for the task.
No troublesome reflections.
No glare along or near normal line of sight.
No frequent transitions between extremes of light and
dark or near and far.
Lamps covered to diffuse light evenly.
Adequate lighting of upper walls and ceilings.
Shadows eliminated.
Bright shiny objects out of view.
Lights provide steady illumination (e.g., lights do not
flicker)
Workers do not complain of visual strains and/or
headaches (check yes if there are no complaints)
Office
Clear and readable images on visual display terminals.
Well-placed local lighting.
Computer monitors are positioned to reduce glare from
various sources (e.g., windows, overhead lighting, etc.)
Matte finishes on furniture and equipment.
Blinds or curtains on windows.
Brightness and contrast controls are properly adjusted on
VDTs.
Appropriate size print, and good contrast is available for
reading materials.
Maintenance
Regular replacement of bulbs.
Regular cleaning of light fixtures.
Regular cleaning of upper walls, ceilings and task
stations.

The only problematic point refers to the displayed position of the local illumination of
the post 2.
Then, there is the analysis and discussion of results, based on the above parameters
from ISO 8995.
3.2 Illuminance
Table 3 presents the illuminance values obtained.
Table 3. Measured illuminance values.

Station 1
Station 2

Measurement 1 (lx)
480
98

Measurement 2(lx)
490
107

Measurement 3 (lx)
527
104

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Thus there were obtained the average illuminance values of 499 and 103 for
stations 1 and 2, respectively. To verify that these illuminance values are within the
reference values for these activities, it was consulted ISO 8995. It was checked the
average illuminance values recommended for visual office tasks, namely the values
of "Writing, Reading and Data Processing" and "CAD Workstation", and in both cases
the recommended amount is 500 lux. Thus, it is plausible to state that station 1 has
illuminance values appropriate to the tasks in question, whereas station 2 shows
values well below. The latter station sets up a short-term intervention case.
The illuminance of the surrounding areas must be in accordance with the
illuminance of the desktop, in order to provide a uniform light distribution of worker's
field of view. Sudden changes of the work area lighting leads to visual stress and
discomfort. In work space surrounding areas, the illuminance should be less, but
never less than the values shown in the table 4.
Table 4. Recommended illuminance values and uniformity for task area and neighborhood
(retrieved from ISO 8995).

Task Area (lx)

Neighborhood (lx)

750

500

500

300

300

200

200

Same as task illuminance

The values obtained for the surrounding areas were included between 150 and 250
lux, so they are partially within the recommended values.
Despite the use of the computer determine much of the working time, office work
has some variability tasks: document viewing, texts reading, communication with
colleagues and pauses throughout the work day. This variability tasks reduces the
occurrence of uncomfortable situations.
3.3 Light distribution
Regarding the work station in this study, the distribution of light turns out to be
efficient, since there are no dark areas and lighting along the workspace holds
values according to the reference, as seen in section 4.1. Additionally, the walls and
ceilings are white and respect the indicated use of light colors in these locations,
there is a regular cleaning (on a daily basis) of the work space and a light source
that projects light upward, reflecting in the ceiling.
However, station 2 was adapted to the site, because it did not exist in the initial
configuration of the wPod. Checking the values illuminance at station 2 (section 4.1),
one easily finds that this station does not have the illuminance values suitable for
the task in question. However, it is not possible to claim that the overall workspace
does not have a distribution of effective light, especially given this station 2 has
been made available subsequently and without resorting to a study of lighting
conditions.
3.4 Glare
In the wPod studied there was no problem concerning to glare. Regarding direct
glare, station 2 is not directed to any light source. Regarding station 1, it has
fluorescent lamps placed in the space in front of and above (as viewed in figure 2),
and at an angle of more than 30 of the horizontal vision line of workers and
therefore does not directly interfere with vision.
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Similarly, there is no reflected glare on any of the jobs. At station 1, as the lamps are
placed in front of the monitors, the light does not reflect on the monitors (although
they lack anti-reflective screens, unlike stations 2 monitor). These lamps also do not
interfere at this level, with station 2. The indirect light source located next to the air
conditioning, also does not create annoying reflections. Finally, it is important to
emphasize that tables have matte finishes and floor in gray carpet also mitigate
possible effects of light reflection.
3.5 Directionality of light
In this case study, the absence of sunlight and proper placement of the light sources
do not interfere with the level of reflections and shadows.
3.6 Light color, surfaces and psychodynamics of colors
The studied space has implemented in its interior decoration the following color
structure and material used:
- White walls
- Floor carpet of gray
- Furniture in opaque gray tones
- Fluorescent Lamps Philips 28W, 5000 K and CRI=80
As seen in section 4.1, the illuminance value obtained for stations were less than or
equal to 500 lux. For the analysis from the values of fluorescent lamps color
temperature (5000 K), it is noted that space is characterized by a cold
environment, and so the adoption of fluorescent lamps with lower temperature color
would be ideal. However, regarding the color rendering, although it is not the ideal
case (100), it appears that the lamps used already provide an acceptable level of
color rendering and, therefore, it is not expected changes in this sense.
Finally, another factor to consider is the psychodynamics of colors, since its correct
use can naturally ease unfavorable conditions. In this particular case, given that it is
a very cold and monochromatic environment, maybe introducing some color could
bring some advantages over the psychological point of view of workers. However,
the choice of a monochromatic cold environment also gives an advantage to this
wPod, since is a small space, the use of cold colors benefits the feeling of space by
increasing psychologically its dimensions. It also reflects a greater feeling of
cleanliness and brightness.
3.7 Flicker
In the workspace in study there are no moving machinery, so it is not seen the
stroboscopic effect. Likewise, carried out by direct observation, there cannot be seen
flickering, so there are no problems in this parameter.
3.8 Natural light
On the workstation under study, the amount of natural light entering through the
front glass surface is quite minimal. Its advantages is to not interfere in terms of
shadows and reflections, so it will not be necessary to take measures to level control
of these variables, and the fact that it is not needed to be considered an integrated
study and application of natural and artificial lighting provided. However, since this
fact has motivated this study, is has a main inconvenient in terms of labor, since it
interferes with the psycho-physiological factors and, therefore, may influence
productivity levels, amongst other factors. Furthermore, there are issues associated
with economic factors and energy. The first case entails higher costs, with all the
associated consequences. In the second case, a greater expenditure of energy will
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bring consequences for the ecological footprint. Finally, natural lighting, particularly
on days of exposure to sunlight, has an influence on the environment temperature
point of view, which will not be reproduced, nor positively or negatively in the
studied space.
3.9 Maintenance
After speaking with the responsible for this parameter, it was realized that there is
no maintenance plan along the described practices. There are no fluorescent lamps
in stock, except for the toilet, and that only when there is a failure that they replace
lamps. In this case they call the vendor and on the same day he takes care of
delivering and replacing it.

4. CONCLUSION
The work allowed the evaluation of the conditions of a workspace and, at the same
time, has strengthened theoretical knowledge on the characterization of lighting
conditions. Thus, it is concluded that the original workspace (prior to introduction of
station 2) has appropriate lighting conditions to the tasks concerned. It is also
possible to conclude that the adaptation made to enter station 2 has not been
studied, since it is a station that does not enjoy the same conditions as station 1,
particularly regarding illuminance values.

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