Why natural light is important in the workplace
- May 28, 2014
- Chris Turberville-Tully
Recent studies have revealed that inadequate daylight in working environments can have a negative effect on employees sleep, activity, quality of life and productivity. Two common illnesses that affect office workers are Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The NHS has more detailed information on each of the illnesses where you can find out more information, but here are some of the symptoms of the illnesses.
SBS symptoms can include some of the following as well as others;
- headaches and dizziness
- nausea (feeling sick)
- aches and pains
- fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- poor concentration
Below are some of the symptoms for SAD but this list is not exhaustive;
- feeling irritable
- feelings of despair
- feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- low self-esteem
- feeling stressed or anxious
As an employer it is vital that you deal with any issues relating to the above symptoms and create a workplace that is adequately lit to avoid any health and safety issues. The HSE has guidelines for employers to help them create a safe working environment, one of which is;
“The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992: Regulation 8 requires every workplace to have suitable and sufficient lighting. The lighting in the workplace, should as far as is possible, be natural. Regulation 8 also states that suitable and sufficient emergency lighting needs to be provided, where people are particularly exposed to danger, in the event of failure of artificial lighting.”
Lighting problems can affect many people, from it being both too harsh and bright to too dark and dim. The best solution for any lighting problem is to have as much natural daylight as possible. Replacing internal partition walls to glass partitions could be a great solution, but you must seek expert help and advice if you are thinking about making these changes. If you do not own the building you may also have to obtain the approval from your landlord. Vitrine Systems have worked with many companies from new building designs to refurbishments and have a wealth of glazing experience that you may find useful.
Replacing internal walls will help open the office space up and allow work areas to have daylight that would otherwise be cut off from window light. Making sure that areas around windows are used for desks and not for cupboards, storage or meeting rooms will also help make good use of natural daylight.
If natural daylight is not possible investing in a lighting system that collects natural daylight diffusing it back into the building may be an alternative. The stored light tends to be more vibrant than artificial light systems and could help combat the problem of SBS and SAD creating a happier working environment for all of your staff.