Light and Lighting Basics for OSH Professionals
- William Mills (Northern Illinois University) | Kevin Martin (Northern Illinois University) | Justin Cathey (Mills Consulting Inc.)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- July 2020
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 22 - 30
- 2020. American Society of Safety Professionals
- 13 in the last 30 days
- 16 since 2007
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- LED lighting is being rapidly adopted in all industries and homes due to energy and cost reductions and longer product life.
- Current research has provided new insight on numerous impacts of lighting on human health and productivity.
- New metrics and instruments are needed to monitor and manage these issues. This article provides a review of the emerging issues regarding lighting that are important to the OSH professional.
Visible light is all around us, from sunlight to street lighting and automobile headlights to the backlight on a smartphone and in nearly every indoor space. Humans are so accustomed to working and living in artificial light that many of us have not stopped to consider the implications. Most OSH professionals’ experience with light and artificial lighting is likely limited to assessing whether sufficient light exists for people to see where they are going or carry out a task, or whether a light is too bright. This article aims to provide a current review of lighting for OSH professionals. Such a review is timely due to emerging issues including energy efficiency, human health impacts (e.g., blue light hazard, circadian rhythm disruption, fatigue), human performance (e.g., visual performance, visual comfort) and environmental impacts (e.g., light pollution).
The visible light spectrum (VLS) is typically considered the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum from approximately 400 to 700 nm wavelength (Figure 1; Elert, 2019; IUPAC, 1997). The colors range from violet (~400 to 450 nm), blue (~450 to 500 nm), green (~500 to 550 nm), yellow (~550 to 600 nm), orange (~600 to 650 nm) and red (~650 to 700 nm). However, there can be some significant variation in exact wavelength ranges reported for colors (Elert, 2019; Helmenstine, 2020; Jones, 2020). The radiant energy of light is characterized by the direct relationship with frequency (Brune, 2020); that is, the shorter wavelength range of the VLS (e.g., violet/purple) has more intrinsic energy than longer wavelengths (e.g., red). The radiant flux (power) of a light source is a function of the frequency of the emitted radiation and time over which the energy is transmitted (DiLaura, Houser, Mistrick et al., 2011; Sliney, 2016).
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