Upgrading your factory or warehouse lighting system is not just a way of saving on energy and maintenance costs. It could be the key to a happier, healthier and more effective workforce. Mark Nicholson examines the potential benefits and advises on how to maximise them.

One of the most basic reasons for lighting a workplace well is to ensure hazards are visible and that light is evenly distributed, so there are no sudden changes when moving from one area to the next.
To do their job effectively, workers must be able to see objects clearly and, where necessary, distinguish between different colours. Their vision should not be obscured by direct or reflected glare, and they should not be subjected to the discomfort of flickering lights.

Bad warehouse lighting can easily result in problems like eyestrain, headaches and migraine, or in further ‘sick building syndrome’ (SBS) symptoms such as fatigue, irritability and poor concentration. At the very least, improving the quality of light will improve your warehouse safety and enhance your employees’ comfort and sense of wellbeing. At best, it will reduce sickness absence and increase productivity.

Compare the benefits of different lighting

Today, most factory and warehouse lighting upgrades involve switching from HID (high-intensity diode) or fluorescent systems to LED (liquid-emitting diode). Each has advantages and disadvantages, which should be researched before buying, but LED tends to win on energy efficiency and extremely long lamp service life. Although LED’s initial purchase price is higher, investment is usually recovered within a few years through lower electricity bills.
Environmentally conscious staff will be content to know that LED lights have a lower carbon footprint. With their much greater lifespan and resistance to breakage, they also reduce material wastage – and there are no highly toxic substances to dispose of when they finally expire. Low UV radiation levels are another bonus to warehouse safety.

LED health benefits claimed by some researchers include fewer headaches, increased learning performance and productivity, less stress and anxiety, and even regulation of sleep-wake cycles. There are counterclaims too. However, on balance, it seems that if the LED system is of a high quality, with the latest advances and the right configuration, it should have a positive impact.

Choose warehouse lighting suitable for your needs

For optimum results, your old warehouse lighting system should be completely replaced. If this is beyond your budget, there is the option of retrofitting LED lamps into your existing light fixtures. Complications here might include incompatibility with dimming mechanisms, and unwanted effects from the old warehouse lighting’s reflectors. Correct specification and installation of an LED retrofit requires specialist knowledge, so make sure your provider has the necessary expertise.

Beware of cheap imported LED products from the Far East and always go for good quality. The ‘colour temperature’ of white lights ranges from warm (yellow) to cool (blue), and your provider should discuss which is best for your needs.
Warehouse lighting also needs to be specified for the right level of brightness, from ceiling to floor, and positioned to avoid direct or reflected glare. If your building regularly experiences air temperatures well above 25°C, this needs to be considered when specifying a system.

LED lighting can be switched on and off instantly, with no delay for warming up and no need for a ‘rest’ before restarting, making it ideal for use with automatic on/off switches (motion-activated) and dimmers (linked to light sensors). For maximum energy savings, these should be included in the system.

Choose your provider carefully

Like all your suppliers, your warehouse lighting provider should be selected with great care. The increasing popularity of LED systems has generated many new businesses in recent years, but some are better than others. Taking time to research companies online, look for customer reviews and talking to customers who have used their services all helps.

A good provider will be able to offer a wide choice of high-quality lighting and give unbiased advice on which products are best for you as well as offer evidence of expertise in installing systems. After a detailed survey of your premises, you should be presented with a full business case showing the calculated return on investment and be given advice on any government funding or tax benefits for sustainable lighting.

Finally, check the warranty offered and make sure it covers on-site support. Usually it will be for about five years. If it’s a lot longer than that, beware of conditions, exclusions and costs which might make it difficult to submit a claim.

Whichever warehouse lighting system you decide to use, by making sure it is up to modern warehouse safety standards, environmentally sustainable and carefully installed, your business will benefit from a more productive and happier workforce.

To see the full article visit Eureka magazine: eurekapub.eu/health-safety

A complete LED refit at the Cat® Lift Trucks premises in Järvenpää
A complete LED refit at the Cat® Lift Trucks premises in Järvenpää greatly improved light quality, from ceiling to floor. Photo: Signify
workers must see objects clearly and with true colour visibility
To work effectively, workers must see objects clearly and with true colour visibility. Photo: Signify
increased employee satisfaction and operational efficiency
The new lighting’s natural and fresh feel has increased employee satisfaction and operational efficiency. Photo: Signify