One of the physical agents that is identified as a hazard in our Health and Safety studies is the impact of blue light on worker eyesight. Blue light is emitted from electronic devices, such as computer screens and tablets. It is part of the light spectrum that travels in short waves with high intensity and reaches further into the retina than other types of light-wave frequency.
The ongoing impact of exposure to blue light includes a deterioration of the circadian rhythms, which we need to help us sleep. When these rhythms are interrupted, getting a good night’s sleep is also interrupted. As each of us may have experienced in the past, when we do not sleep at night, we do not function the next day.
The impact of blue light on employee health and safety is not a new phenomenon. The prevention or hazard reduction of this physical agent, however, does not seem to be getting the attention it deserves.
Think about the masses of employees staring all day at computer screens that are emitting high-levels of blue light. Is the sleep of each employee negatively impacted at night? If the workforce as a whole is not able to get a good night’s sleep, how can they be productive in the workplace the next day? As noted in the article, related costs include a reduction in daily productivity and having to deal with a sleep-deprived and cranky workforce.
The article provides recommendations for interventions that include screens for computer monitors, allowing employees to take additional eye breaks, and the installation of light monitoring software. None of these seems to be a high-price to pay when balanced against the costs that come with lost productivity and managing irritable employees.
Blue-light-induced insomnia benefits no-one.
A good night’s sleep benefits everyone.
- Of the physical interventions noted in the article, identify the one that you think is both cost-effective and health-effective for the workplace. Explain your rationale.
- How do you protect your own eyesight from exposure to blue light?
- From a Health and Safety perspective, which interventions would you implement as mandatory for worker safety? Explain your rationale.
- Prepare an informal assessment of worker exposure to blue light in your current workplace. Are there interventions in place? If not, how will you approach your current employer?