Requirements for workspaces

A comfortable workspace also boosts productivity.

A well-designed workspace has a window, a comfortable temperature, efficient ventilation and the right level of lighting. The minimum height of a workspace is 2.5 metres, and the room must be spacious enough to enable employees to perform their work and move about. The room must also have enough capacity to accommodate the type of work performed there and in any case at least 10 cubic metres per worker.

No more than 3.5 metres of the capacity can be attributable to the height of the room. A room without any direct source of natural light can in some circumstances be used for work if enough lighting can be provided otherwise. In such circumstances, particular attention must be given to making the space as comfortable as possible in view of the nature of the work.

Machinery and equipment must be positioned correctly

Workspaces can contain machinery, equipment, assistive devices and furniture. The way in which these are positioned in the space affects how easily and efficiently work can be performed.

If the work can be performed sitting down, seats must be provided. Seats are also needed to enable workers to take breaks. Workspaces must be big enough to allow employees to work in a comfortable position, to change positions freely and to not be restricted in their movements.

Moreover, the floors and any staircases and passageways in the workplace must be well looked-after in order to prevent slips, trips and falls. Any escalators or travelators must be fitted with safety devices and clearly visible emergency-stop buttons. If work needs to be carried out in a dangerous location, such as high up, the location must be easily accessible and the surface there safe to work on.  

Attention must be given to the safety of doors and access routes

All floors, windows, doors and gates in a workplace must be safe. Any transparent doors must carry markings to make them easier to notice. All swinging doors and gates must be fully or partially transparent. Sliding doors must be fitted with safety devices that prevent them from coming off their tracks, and vertical-lift doors and gates must have a mechanism that prevents them from falling down.

All access routes, passageways, staircases and escalators must be kept free of obstacles and safe to use. Emergency exits must also be accessible in an emergency.

Efficient lighting is a combination of ceiling lights and spotlights

Workspaces should ideally be located aboveground and have windows. If a workspace is located completely or partially underground, special attention must be given to adequate ventilation, lighting and the safety of exits as well as any other necessary back-up systems.

Good lighting increases safety, comfort and work motivation. Inadequate or inappropriate lighting puts a strain on employees’ eyes, makes a space uncomfortable and can lead to mistakes that could result in an injury. All workspaces need to have ceiling lights and, if necessary, spotlights.

Lighting in areas that are used for work must be sufficiently bright and even, and there must not be any major variations in lighting levels within the workers’ field of vision. Indoor areas where employees regularly spend time, move around or perform work usually need to have a minimum light level of between 150 and 200 lux.

The recommended light levels are

  • 150–300 lux in areas where visual tasks are rarely performed
  • 500–1,000 lux in areas where regular work is performed, and
  • more than 1,000 lux in areas where exacting visual tasks are performed.

Lights must be positioned and angled so that they do not create glare or cast distracting shadows. Workspaces also need to be shielded against the glare of sunlight with the help of, for example, blinds or awnings. It is important to remember that older employees usually need better lighting.