I was at Singapore’s 19th Asian Congress of Occupational Health Physicians to present a research paper on aspects of illumination amongst computer users in corporate offices.
The conference at Suntec City was attended by over 400 occupational health and safety professionals from the Asia-Pacific region. Here are some pertinent findings:
Illumination or luminance is the quantity of light that falls on a given work area. For computer work, the illumination levels (200 to 500 lux) should be generally lower, compared to reading a document(500 to 700 lux).
In most corporate offices, there is a balance between these levels. The illumination is more towards the window. There needs to be dark sun-control films and Venetian Blinds.
Employees working at computer workstations with 500 lux experience visual strain, fatigue, redness and dryness of the eyes.
Since employees are so engrossed in their work schedules, they do not maintain a correct eye monitor distance of 40 to 65 cms.
Correct eye monitor distance, frequent eye blinking and rest breaks to relax and stretch eye muscles by following the 20-20-20-rule (every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds) cannot be sufficiently emphasised.
Blinking eyes reduces eye strain. Light sensors that will illuminate a workstation according to the desired norms within a radius of two metres will be feasible in India soon and already exist in western countries.
As nano technology (engineered particles of an extremely small size) is developing rapidly, issues on occupational and environmental health are just beginning to emerge on this subject.
Recent studies have shown that nano particles can enter the human body and interfere with cellular as well as physiological functions.
Pleural mesothelioma (cancer) and asbestosis (lung disease affecting lung expansion due to inhaled asbestos dust). Once exposed, the cancer may develop after 20 years, even if the employee leaves the job.
Dr S M Shanbahag, National President of Indian Association of Occupational Health, has been elected vice- president of the Asian Congress of Occupational Health Physicians. That’s one up for occupational health in India.
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(The writer is a consulting physician and vice-president of the Indian Association of Occupational Health, Mumbai branch)