“Ship environments are a new area for visual ergonomics”

Daylight and indoor lighting not only affect our circadian rhythm but can also impact on our performance and physical well-being, said Hillevi Hemphälä, researcher and vision ergonomist, during the SAN conference. She has recently been invited to study lighting conditions on icebreakers operating from Luleå.

Poor visual ergonomics in the workplace can cause numerous problems, including sleep disturbance and higher risk of accidents as well as joint and muscle pain in the neck, shoulders and back. For almost 20 years, Hillevi Hemphälä has researched how light affects people and their abilities.  According to her, there are more problems caused by incorrect lighting than many people think.

“Between 20 and 40 percent of people are negatively affected by poor lighting. There may be too much contrast between light and dark, flickering light or lighting that dazzles or creates shadows,” she explains in an interview after the conference.

Between 20 and 40 percent of people are negatively affected by poor lighting.

She says that the marine work environment is particularly challenging in terms of visual ergonomics. Work in the engine room has no daylight at all, while bright daylight on the bridge can be problematic for officers working with instrument panels.

“Ship environments are a new area in visual ergonomics that need more study before we can comment in detail. I have just received an invitation to study the lighting on icebreakers,” says Hillevi Hemphälä.

“The plan there is to focus on three main areas: daytime and nighttime lighting on the bridge, lighting in general on the ship, and lighting in spaces without windows.

We will apply for research funding to carry out a feasibility study on lighting and light conditions on board.  The ship environment is complex and I imagine that the feasibility study will lead to three doctoral projects with different approaches.  In five or six years, we will probably be able to say a lot more about lighting on ships,” says Hillevi Hemphälä.

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