Lighting up your business

Few business owners with warehouses or large buildings would take a trip to their local DIY shop for their lighting needs. Lighting on an industrial scale usually requires larger, specific units to even house the relevant bulbs, which you wouldn’t find in such as B&Q.

glowing outline of a light bulb with a powerful glowing electric interior.

You also need to think of how the building will function, as you may need different kinds of lighting for various needs, i.e. more focused lighting in sections that work in detail, compared to areas that need lighting over a wide area, so that corners aren’t shrouded in darkness, for example. Whilst natural lighting is the best, inside warehouses or large buildings, this is unlikely to be enough for people to work in.

It’s a health and safety concern if the lighting within a warehouse, factory or such like, isn’t suitable for purpose; as an employer, the last thing you’d want is for one of your employees to have an accident and make a claim against you because they couldn’t see properly to carry out their task in a safe manner. Falls and trips would be common in such a scenario, and your employees could cause damage to equipment or materials if they drop tools or place them down precariously, due to bad lighting.

In smaller offices, perhaps where employers work on computers, the lighting needs to be of the correct brightness—not too dim that workers have to strain their eyes to see, but not too bright that the overhead/task lighting competes with the light of their computer screen.

Poor lighting can affect our mood, as it affects the production of cortisol in our bodies; over time, a lack of this hormone could lead to depression, low mood and high stress levels in your employees. It could also cause physical harm. Your employees may hunch over their computer, desk or work if lighting is poor, in order to clearly see what they’re working on—this could cause backache and neck pain over a prolonged period.

The measure of lighting in workplaces is by ‘candle-feet’ or ‘foot candle’. Though there’s no evidence of this, the words sound like they hark back to a time when candles were the main form of lighting—perhaps this measure was how far away the candle had to be to the task at hand, to ensure the optimum intensity of light…who knows?

collection of differing light bulbs lined up together on a blue background.

Today, this term demonstrates the optimum amount of lighting for a specific area, i.e. one foot candle equals the minimum illumination needed for one square foot of area. Hallways and corridors require a minimum luminosity of five candle-feet, whereas work rooms and factory floors, for example, require a minimum of 10 candle-feet, and offices require illuminating to 30 candle-feet. An alternative term for light measurement in the workplace is ‘lux’; the minimum needed for fine detail work is 200 lux (though the average is 500 lux), with offices requiring at least 300 lux. As mentioned, it's not just the avoidance of a dim workplace that these measures help to counteract, lighting that is too bright can cause damage to employees’ eyes and this is also something to circumvent.

Consider also the ‘whiteness’ of the light your bulbs throw out. Some bulbs can give off a yellow or green tinge, which can, again, affect the production of certain chemicals in our bodies if we’re exposed to them for a length of time. You can also get warm tones and cold tones to lighting; a warm tone helps people relax and read better, whilst a cold tone improves individuals’ attention. The median of these would be the optimum tone for people to work/concentrate comfortably for longer periods of time.

Then there’s lighting on the outside of your building for security purposes. Lighting tripped by motion is useful, as is infrared-controlled lighting. Some workplaces even invest in lighting that illuminates when body heat is detected by special sensors.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when planning the lighting of a workspace—which is influenced by the type of work that will go on inside, on the physical dimensions of the building, and what the lighting is for in each specific area.

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