KANBrief 1/17

Artificial, biologically effective illumination: the Arnsberg Roadmap sets milestones

Light in any form influences the physiology of human beings. As yet, the complexity of this influence has prevented occupational safety and health recommendations from being issued for the relatively new technology of artificial, biologically effective illumination. This form of illumination is already in use at some workplaces. In September 2016, KAN brought all stakeholders together in order to develop a strategy for safe use of the technology.

A more precise understanding of how light controls the human biological clock has been gained only during the last 20 years. Whilst artificial, biologically effective lighting can support the biological clock, it can also knock a healthy rhythm out of step. Numerous studies of the subject have now been conducted, and standards developers are addressing the topic at national, European and international level. International standardization activity is first to determine the scientific findings made to date. The ISO Committee will then decide how standardization activity is to proceed. Since new lighting technology raises numerous questions on the opportunities and risks that it presents, KAN has commented critically in a position paper on the standardization of artificial, biologically effective illumination. (NOTE: this position paper was last updated in September 2022: KAN position (pdf)).

KAN workshop: "Human-centric Lighting"
Numerous different groups such as manufacturers, planners, researchers, the social partners, and also the occupational safety and health community itself are active in this area, but with in some cases differing objectives. In order to compare their standpoints and to bring the knowledge of all parties involved up to date, KAN organized a KAN workshop on the subject of "human-centric lighting" in September 2016 at the premises of a lighting products manufacturer in Arnsberg. A further objective was to agree upon a joint strategy for future activity in the area of artificial, biologically effective illumination that gives appropriate consideration to occupational safety and health.

Existing applications of the technology at workplaces were presented at the workshop, thereby enhancing the pooling of information. It became clear to all workshop participants that action must be taken quickly, since these lighting concepts are no longer dreams of the future, but have already found their way into actual use.

Discussion revealed that essential questions have not yet been answered, such as:

  • How can a picture be obtained of the knowledge gained to date of opportunities and risks presented by artificial, biologically effective lighting?
  • How can long-term field studies be carried out?
  • Who bears responsibility for any health hazards caused by incorrect lighting, given that concrete recommendations for its use are still non-existent? Consequently, what needs to be regulated, and how?
  • Who produces reference documentation for use for example by planners and employers?

The "Arnsberg Roadmap"
The parties attending the "workshop for the future" put forward a number of approaches to the problem. What milestones must be set by the stakeholders, what hurdles are to be overcome, and how do we envisage illumination in the future?

The result of these efforts is the "Arnsberg Roadmap". Its core objectives are for the discussion initiated by the workshop to be maintained, information to be published, the current progress of scientific research to be determined, and further research to be funded, including in the area of occupational safety and health.

The first outcome of the Arnsberg Roadmap is the commissioning by KAN of a literature survey in close consultation with the DGUV's Lighting sub-committee. The background to this survey is that some of the known studies on lighting evaluation have delivered inconsistent results. The (preliminary) results of standardization activity at national, European and international level are also to be included in this literature survey. The survey is to produce the most comprehensive compilation possible of scientific findings with a bearing upon OSH, and is to deliver pointers for prevention measures and research issues that have yet to be resolved.

KAN is planning a follow-up workshop for early 2018 in order to maintain the dialogue that has begun promisingly. The updated KAN position paper on the subject of artificial, biologically effective illumination in standards will also be published in the spring of 2017.

Anna Dammann                          Katharina von Rymon Lipinski
dammann@kan.de                  vonrymonlipinski@kan.de