OFFICE ERGONOMIC GUIDELINES - GENERAL OFFICE ENVIRONMENT

Lighting

In all working environments the lighting situation needs to be considered.

The Australian Standard AS 1680, Standard AS 1680.2.2 - 1994 Interior lighting Part 2.2: Office and screen-based tasks suggests lighting levels in an office environment as follows;

  • "Ordinary" visual tasks should be in range 300 to 400 lux [320 lux (task) and 160 lux (Background)]. Illumination is measured in units of LUX - lumens per square metre
  • For more demanding visual tasks, including proof reading and working from poor quality photocopies, 600 lux is suitable
  • Older workers may require stronger lighting

Options for adjusting lighting include;

  • Positioning of the monitor to the side of window light and/or in between overhead light sources.
    To minimise glare, avoid placement of desks directly underneath light sources and ensure the screen or the operator do not face an unshielded window.
  • Removal or reallocation of lighting sources such as one fluorescent from a bank of two can assist where excess glare is noted.
  • Clean lights and diffusers regularly. Lights deteriorate with age and accumulate dirt over their surface. Fluorescent light flicker indicates that either the tube or the starter needs replacing. Contact the Facilities management office service desk to arrange for replacement of fluorescent lights.
  • Aim for even illumination between adjacent areas.
    Extra task lighting can be added but should not have hard edges or directly impinge on the computer user’s view or reflect onto the computer screen.
  • "Anti-glare" Screen Filters- Where all other efforts to correct lighting have not succeeded, use of a screen filter may be necessary. A trial of the filter before purchase is recommended where possible. Regular cleaning is also recommended.

Noise

  • Excessive noise may increase staff stress and fatigue. General noise may be reduced by floor carpeting and by locating office areas away from sources of external noise. The recommended decibel range for office work is 55 to 65 dBA.
  • Hard surfaces such as glass walls or white boards will act to increase the reflection of noise.
  • Telephone or other conversations can be distracting in open plan offices. Sound absorbing barriers may be considered if such noise is a problem.
  • Some office groups follow their own "low noise rules".
  • Some office machines have high noise levels. Supervisors should ensure their location, patterns and vicinity to staff are such as to prevent problems.

Temperature

  • OHSIM have developed some Guidelines on Indoor Thermal Comfort.
  • Temperature, air movement and humidity influence how comfortable an office becomes, particularly when sedentary tasks are performed. There are considerable differences between individuals in their preference for thermal comfort and it is unlikely that one temperature will suit everyone.
  • Locating workstations so that the individual is not sitting close to, under, or in front of an air conditioning outlet may prevent staff being affected by draughts.
  • Please refer to the guidelines on Room Heaters.
  • Campus Infrastructure Services have also developed a Policy on Air Conditioning.

Air Quality

  • Some workers may be sensitive to changes in air quality.
  • Air quality can be affected by activities such as dust from construction work and fumes from carpet laying.
  • If you notice symptoms relating to skin or eye irritation or breathing difficulties that could be associated with such events, notify your supervisor. Contact will need to be made with the area responsible to investigate when the process at hand will be complete and if the area cannot be avoided contact Risk Management to review further.

Furniture and Storage

  • Adequate personal space and storage for staff needs to be considered to prevent fatigue due to constrained postures or movements
  • Correct placement of furniture in a work area ensures staff are not tempted to twist or reach with items over 4 kgs
  • It is preferable to place a secondary work space outside the maximum reach area so that staff are required to stand and move around to reach items that should not be lifted whilst sitting
  • Standing and moving to a position within easy reach of an object is preferable to over-stretching when reaching for objects located beyond maximum reach
  • Appropriate height and sufficient shelving can also reduce the need to bend or reach excessively to gather or store items
  • Avoid repeated use of poor spinal postures when sideways reaching and leaning down to the mobile drawer unit.
  • Store heavy items eg water bottles, reams of paper on shelves around waist level
  • Avoid storing frequently used items near floor level or above shoulder height
  • 4.5 kg is the maximum acceptable load to be lifted in the seated position