Oregon OSHA Health and Safety

RESOURCE

December 2015

Ask Technical

In questions concerning healthful workplaces, the devil is often lurking in the details.

Q:

Is an employer required to provide a chair for somebody who works at a desk? I know it sounds strange, but a friend of mine recently had her chair removed from her desk and is now required to stand while she is doing deskwork.

A:

Oregon OSHA does not require employers to provide chairs for employees who work at desks. Employees have a right to a safe, healthful workplace – and neither standing nor sitting for long periods of time are healthful – but we do not know why the chair was removed. Has the company recently started a wellness program and temporarily removed desk chairs? For example, if this was part of a companywide effort to get employees to move about more during the workday that might be beneficial. Also, her desk would have to be adjusted properly for standing to ensure that she was able to work comfortably.

 

And

 

Q:

My employer recently replaced our overhead lighting with lights that are twice as bright as the previous ones. Now I am having eyestrain, headaches, nervous problems, and anxiety. I sit at my desk with tears streaming down my face and have missed more than two days of work this month. What can I do?

A:

Office work is visually demanding and requires appropriate lighting for maximum comfort and productivity. Appropriate lighting, without glare or shadows, can also reduce eye fatigue and headaches. Your employer should have done a lighting survey to determine the proper intensity of the light and the quality of the light in your work area. The survey should also have asked employees if they were having eye fatigue, eye strain, and headaches such as the problems you are experiencing.

Unfortunately, we do not know why your employer replaced the lights. Oregon OSHA does have a rule that sets requirements for the “adequacy and effectiveness” of light at a workplace (see 437-002-0144, Additional Oregon Rules for General Environmental Controls). For more information about conducting a lighting survey, see Oregon OSHA Program Directive A-66, Lighting; though it was last revised some time ago, the information is still useful.

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