A pain in the neck

Lighting manufacturers and designers have a vital role to play in alleviating the pain of those who suffer from occupational diseases brought on by thoughtless lighting installations

The world is full of dangerous occupational hazards and conditions – spend too much time in any industry and constant exposure may lead to an illness.

Tennis elbow and builder’s bum are well known and understood conditions, but it’s the lesser known afflictions that often go unnoticed, such as vendere bracchium (sales rep’s arm) resulting from the right arm getting too much sun as the salesperson trawls the motorway network looking for business and a decent Travelodge. Or plumbum pulmonarius (plumber’s lung), which causes a sudden huge intake of breath and loud tutting noise when in the vicinity of old pipework.

Are you a sufferer?

Many of these are trivial compared with our own industry’s occupational illness: lucis collum (lighting neck). Sadly, you are probably a sufferer. Mild symptoms include involuntarily looking up towards the ceiling in an artificially lit space.

The condition often quickly displays acute symptoms such as mentally calculating the energy consumption, trying to spot the brands of lamps and assessing the effectiveness of the maintenance regime.

Symptoms are slightly seasonal – more people suffer in the dark winter months. Long-term sufferers are often a danger to society, taking inappropriate photographs and knocking innocent pedestrians to the floor as they aimlessly wander around with their heads in the air. Sadly, the affliction is contagious and mild symptoms can be passed on to close family members, who will often return from a shopping trip with anecdotal stories about poor lighting over the makeup counters in Selfridges.

On the increase

Unfortunately, the severity of the disease and the number of sufferers is on the increase. Society is not helping. Never before in the history of lighting has so much been happening indiscriminately on the ceiling. An innocent trip to the toilet can be ruined by exposure to a careless MR16 LED retrofit and occupancy sensor installation, and the resulting embarrassment of wet feet.

Then there are motorway pile-ups caused by trying to count the number of LEDs in the latest LED street light, traffic jams in a multi-story as someone pulls over to check out the optical performance of a retrofitted LED tube in a sealed T8 fixture, and buying the wrong size and colour of clothing after being distracted trying to ascertain if the track lighting fixture is LED or HID.

Ease the symptoms

If you are in the business, please try to ease a suffer’s symptoms by following our five-point code of practice:

  • Retrofit sensibly. Try to match lux levels and colour temperatures to what went before.
  • Label. Put an ‘LED inside’ label on the product, together with the manufacturers’ name on the outside of the fixture in an easily visible location.
  • Don’t be too clever with the controls, it only encourages sufferers to loiter.
  • Try to get the retrofit to go inside the fixture, low-hanging CFLs and bulging LED heatsinks only encourage frenzied photograph taking.
  • Don’t LED for LEDs’ sake.

If you’re suffering from lucis collum, remedies to ease the symptoms include regular trips to the floor tile section of Travis Perkins and a subscription to Carpet Equipment News. The Lux magazine charitable foundation is raising funds to build a special respite care home, with all lights at or near ground level, no LEDs or T5, and no occupancy sensors.

Tipping point

LEDs are now accepted in many markets, but has the time come for the solid state source?

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