Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dialight delivers light relief for cold-store workers

As anyone who has ever had the misfortune to have to work under HID lighting will testify, working in poor lighting is no picnic. It’s not just a question of personal preference either. Colours look wrong; it’s difficult and tiring trying to make out detail on job sheets or packing lists and the pervasive gloominess seems to make every task a slog. Combine poor lighting with -20 degree temperatures and you’ve got some idea how difficult life was for the workers at a cold storage facility we visited in Japan recently. That is, before Dialight came to the rescue.

At Dialight, we are used to dealing with satisfied customers. But it is even more gratifying to see first hand the difference Dialight lighting makes to the men and women who toil behind the scenes in factories and warehouses. For people working in these sometimes difficult environments, working life is not just improved, it’s transformed.

Poor lighting is often cited as a major workplace hazard from a safety point of view. But it is also widely recognised as being a contributory factor to increased stress, poor performance and increased absenteeism in the workplace[1]. Scientific studies carried out over many years[2] have found evidence of physical health problems associated with poor workplace lighting ranging from eyestrain, migraines and headaches to lethargy, irritability and poor concentration. Not only is this bad for workers, it’s also bad for business; tired workers make more mistakes, have more accidents, are less motivated and are more likely to feel stressed and dissatisfied at work – all of which is going to hit productivity and ultimately the bottom line.

The characteristic most blamed for these negative health effects is the spectralpower distribution (SPD) of the light source[3]. In layman’s terms, this is a measure of how even-coloured a light is. High pressure sodium lamps, for example, have almost no blue light in them, giving everything an orange tinge. Mercury vapour lighting, on the other hand, has very little red light, making everything seem skewed towards the blue-green end of the spectrum. Natural daylight, in contrast, delivers a more or less even spread of energy across the entire visible spectrum, and this is why it is believed to be the most beneficial for health and well-being[4]. 

There is one other light source that delivers a pretty much even SPD  – LED lighting. The decision to switch to LED is often taken on financial grounds, but once installed many customers have also been pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reaction of their workforce to the improved working conditions. In many cases, workers have reported being able to concentrate better, making fewer mistakes and feeling less tired at the end of the day. Switching to Dialight doesn’t just make sense from a financial viewpoint, but from a human resources one as well.  The warm handshake and beaming smile from a relieved cold-store worker we met proved the truth of that.

[1] HSE Lighting at Work (HSG38 Second Edition 1997)
[2] Lindner & Kropf, 1993; Stone, 1992;Veitch et al., 1993; Veitch & Gifford, 1996
[3] Rea, 1993
[4] Veitch et al., 1993; Veitch & Gifford, 199