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Physical environment

Lighting

Good lighting allows users to view the screen and document easily without awkward postures or straining the eyes from glare, shadowing or reflections on the screen. Check lighting levels and lighting distractions at various times throughout hours of operation.

Lighting Levels

Consideration for lighting includes:

  • higher lighting levels are required for writing and reading tasks, particularly more detailed work
  • lower lighting levels may be suitable for tasks that are predominately computer based
  • keep lighting levels similar for work area and general environment.

What is glare?

Glare may be experienced by light shining directly into the eyes or reflected from other surfaces such as screen, desktop or walls. This can cause eye fatigue and headaches. With the increasing size of monitors, the larger surface areas may increase reflected glare.

Ways to avoid glare:

  • position the computer workstation so that the users’ line of sight is parallel to the window
  • try to locate computer workstations between rows of overhead lights
  • control natural light from the windows e.g. use a venetian blind (best angled up rather than down)
  • ensure all work surfaces and office fittings have non-reflective surfaces
  • adjust the angle of the screen so that it is 90 degrees (a right angle) to the work surface
  • avoid tilting the screen towards the ceiling
  • adjust brightness and contrast on the monitor
  • use a light-coloured background on the monitor
  • reposition the monitor and keyboard to minimise amount of glare on equipment.

Ways to reduce shadowing/improve low light levels include:

  • remove barriers to light falling on the work area, such as overhead shelving to reduce shadowing
  • adjust the brightness of lighting
  • redirect available lighting
  • ensure lights are in good working order and report any broken or flickering lighting as soon as possible
  • reposition the workstation where possible to take advantage of additional lighting.

Noise

Noise in the workplace can be highly distracting and limit communication, as well as reduce work performance and productivity.

Nuisance noise is noise that does not cause hearing loss, but may have a psychological effect and impact on performance. The causes of nuisance noise are wide ranging and can be quite difficult to control. Due to its effect on employees, it should be minimised where possible and should be managed at a local level. Typically noise levels in an office area range from 50-60dB(A), if a photocopier is located in the area it increase noise levels to 59-71 dB(A). If noise levels are not conducive to concentration report it to your supervisor for further investigation.

Room Temperature

In Australia, most people work comfortably in an office when temperatures are between 20°-24°C in winter when employees are wearing winter clothing, and in summer between 23°-26°C when staff are wearing lightweight clothing. Office temperatures that are too hot or too cold are one of the most common complaints amongst staff and can contribute to lost productivity and low morale. It is important to recognise that even though the whole temperature of the office may be sitting within the specified range, some areas may be above or below the recommended temperature. If someone sits directly under an air conditioning vent, then they may be in a draught and therefore much cooler than need be. If you do not feel comfortable when sitting at your desk report it to your supervisor for further investigation.

Housekeeping

The office environment is more than simply furniture placement. The environment of an office includes issues such as cleanliness, order, and maintenance. Injuries in office settings often come about because the "housekeeping" of office areas has been neglected allowing potential hazards to develop. Cleanliness and good housekeeping can also reduce allergic reactions to dust/mould and prevent illness.

Ensure there are no trip hazards caused by power cords, mats or other items across walkways. Keep electrical cabling and or computer cords under desks and away from sitting spaces. Keep combustible material e.g. paper, packing, boxes etc. to a minimum.