Lighting in the Workplace: Recommendations for Compliant Office Lighting



According to a study in the Journal of Public Affairs, Administration and Management on the ‘Impact of Office Design on Employees’ Productivity’ researchers found that lighting is the prime factor that affects productivity in the office. An article in lighting magazine Mondo Arc highlights various side effects of artificial lighting. The article states how “certain visual patterns can reliably trigger a migraine attack, such as high contrast striped patterns or flickering lights” with around 14% of adults in Europe suffering from a migraine. The article does, however go on to state that artificial lighting now offers a better range of technologically advance luminaries that offset any such health risks. There is extensive information available from a number of Government and statutory bodies providing information on appropriate lighting within the workplace. Here we have a look at a round-up of the main points employers can use as standard recommendations for suitable lighting levels.

According to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, Regulation 8 outlines that every workplace requires suitable and sufficient lighting. As far as possible, the lighting should be natural. In the event of failure of artificial lighting, Regulation 8 also states that suitable and sufficient emergency lighting needs to be provided, where people are particularly exposed to danger. The Health and Safety Executive recommends that the CIBSE Code for lighting is a sophisticated guideline outlining typical values of average and minimum illuminance that is required. Please see the table below.

CIBSE Code for Lighting:

ActivityWork requiring perception of detailWork requiring perception of fine detail
Typical locations/types of workOfficesDrawing offices
Average illuminance (lux) 1x200500
Minimum illuminance measured (lux) 1x100200
Source: HSE Guide to Lighting at Work


CIBSE Guidance and Lighting Guide 7: Office Lighting outlines a number of points to be noted. The Guide, LG7 outlines the basic requirements that are necessary to achieve a fully compliment lighting design by creating an ideal balance of luminance between task area, walls and the ceiling. LG7 suggests that the ratio of the wall surface should be at least 50% of the average task area illuminance with the ceiling at least 30%, and the floor at least 20%. This can be a combination of natural or artificial light and direct or indirect lighting that affects the different lighting levels on each surface. Key is also in the variations in surface materials and colours; how reflective the floor or the furniture surfaces are also make a difference.

A range of suitable luminaries are available in the market, and what all these guidelines and recommendations provide is an outline. Each workspace and interior environment varies, so typically the requirements for lighting will vary from project to project. We hope this guide helps to outline the importance of suitable lighting for both the wellbeing of the workforce and to create a pleasant working environment.