ergonomic lighting

Ergonomic lighting benefits

Lighting is often overlooked in work station needs
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
by Don Cabatoff

Office worker ergonomics typically relates to physical needs (chairs, desks, keyboards), however most often overlooked is the lighting for the worker’s visual needs.

The Design Quarterly, Winter 2013 article Ergonomic Lighting described the benefits of ergonomic work station lighting – comfortable, glare free controllable light at the worker’s personal desk top. A distinct departure from the usual ceiling fluorescent lighting, there was resistance from some camps, however the owners were convinced individual lighting would be the best choice for their employees. Manufactured by Luxit, the former Italian division of the Luxo company, the lighting was installed with work stations in three Greater Vancouver locations and was well received. People really liked having their own lighting and control.

Fluorescent bulbs were used at the time and the controls were simple on-off switches. Recent updates from people working at the sites who have used the lighting since the beginning enjoy their lighting – a testament to the reasons for selecting and installing it years ago. The sole complaint is the Luxit product is no longer available for adding work stations and work spaces.

Ergonomic lighting today

Today, European manufacturers produce ergonomic lighting luminaires with LED lighting instead of fluorescent light bulbs. However, the original concept of individual lighting still holds, reflecting light from the ceiling for calm, comfortable glare free light at the desktop. The LED lighting brings a number of benefits:  individuals have their own on-off switches including light level controls; and their luminaire includes presence sensing and versions also sense the amount of daylight being received.  When people are away from their work stations, the lights turn off or dim, which is also the case when sufficient daylight occurs, providing energy saving benefits.

Individual work station lighting will one day have the ability to “tune” the lighting, adjusting the white light colour range from warm incandescent to bright white daylight, like other office LED lighting that now includes tuning for worker’s biological as well as visual needs.  It is recognized eyes have a sensitive area that responds to a type of blue light in daylight that triggers the production of hormones, synchronizing our internal time clock for waking and sleeping.  Our 24-hour cycle of waking and sleeping – our circadian rhythm is affected when people are continually indoors and not able to sense the blue from sunlight.

Recently light luminaire manufacturers began integrating LED lighting that includes this special blue light missing from ordinary LED lighting.  For those who spend much of their days indoors, this special blue lighting helps people with regulating their biological clocks.

Ergonomic lighting for the home office

Many today work from home and may need ergonomic lighting for their home office. Glare, the major enemy of good lighting, may be happening from the overhead lighting reflecting on the desk top, and from daylight coming in the windows.  A simple solution, a floor mounted or attached ergonomic light will make a significant difference, providing calm, comfortable, glare-free light.  Home office lighting can also incorporate tuning for circadian rhythms, contributing to wellness and well being.

Ergonomic lighting for co-working offices

Co-working offices are an on-demand concept where owners of office space free up work stations for rent by others.  Individual ergonomic work station lighting, by its portability alone, makes it an easy process to establish rental workstations.  Offering clients the means for controlling their own lighting levels is a plus while providing a greener work space.  Space that’s typically not usable for an office work station because there is no lighting, or the ceiling is too high, or there is no ceiling, becomes usable with ergonomic work station lighting.  It’s possible to even have work stations placed outdoors, using a reflector. It just requires 120 volts power and a network connection and people are able to work.

Ergonomic lighting for rented office spaces

Ergonomic work station lighting is the ideal solution for those having issues working under the ceiling lighting in their office and not able to make any changes because the office space is rented.  The solution can be as simple as setting up a free-standing floor model ergonomic light luminaire at the worker’s work station and plugging the power cord into 120 volts. The overhead fluorescent light above the work station needs to be switched off and then the worker can enjoy calm, comfortable glare-free lighting, setting the light levels to their own preference.

Ergonomic lighting can help workers extend careers and employers retain valuable personnel.

Don Cabatoff is owner of the E3 Lighting Agency. Contact him at For more information about ergonomic lighting, read his article in Design Quarterly Winter 2013.



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