Adequate lighting in the workplace is critical to accurate work performance and reducing visual fatigue.

Light sources within the workplace come from overhead ceiling lighting, task lighting and natural day light entering through windows. Some types of fluorescent lighting produce a ‘flickering’ effect 50HZ which is generally not noticeable.

However some people such as those with autism, epilepsy or photosensitivity may notice a flicker in fluorescent lights or computer screens or may find excessively bright lights uncomfortable. For susceptible people, flickering lights or exposure to bright lights can result in the onset of seizures, headaches, nausea or dizziness.

Reactions to flickering or bright lights may depend on the light’s brightness, the contrast of the light or light source with the surrounding area, distance between the individual and the light source, whether the person’s eyes are open or closed, how often it flickers or flashes and the wave length of the light.

Workplace solutions and adjustments

 For people within the workplace who are sensitive to flickering in light globes, consideration can be given to:

1. Updating the the existing fluorescent magnetic 50HZ ballast with an electronic 40KHZ ballast.

2. Replacing existing 36w T8 tubes with T8 to T5 adaptors,28w tubes and electronic ballast.(retrofit)

3. Changing from fluorescent cool white to full spectrum natural daylight lighting

4. Positioning a lamp with a full spectrum ESL globe close to the individual.

5. Positioning the individual closer to the natural light of the window

6. Changing the colour of the globe or using a globe with a softer diffuse light

Other suggestions for people sensitive to flickering or flashing lights include:

When watching training videos within the workplace, sit away from the screen, reduce the screen brightness and place another light source close to the screen to reduce contrast between the screen and surrounding environment
use a flat screen or LCD computer monitor as these are flicker free.

When considering lighting for a person or workplace the following links may be useful:

Lighting—full spectrum
Lighting—task or alternative lighting
Lights—low wattage or overhead
Managing sensitivity to light

Epilepsy Foundation (no date specified), Photosensitivity and seizures, Epilepsy Foundation of America, Maryland, viewed 21 July 2008,

The National Autistic Society 2010, Environment and surroundings: making them autism friendly, The National Autistic Society, London, viewed 21 February 2011,


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