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Health hazard evaluation report: lighting, indoor environmental quality concerns, and job stress at a call center - California.

Wiegand DM; Ramsey JG; Burr GA; Choi J
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 2012-0081-3169, 2013 Jan; :1-27
In February 2012, the AFGE submitted an HHE request to NIOSH regarding indoor lighting, IEQ, and job stress at a call center in California. We evaluated the call center on April 17-18, 2012. HHE Program investigators met with managers, local union representatives, and employees and observed work processes, practices, and workplace conditions throughout the call center. We measured illumination; examined the ventilation systems; and measured temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide throughout the workday. We also administered a voluntary survey of employees to assess their health and safety concerns as well as their perceptions of the psychosocial work environment. We collected 53 light measurements throughout the call center. The light level averaged 50.7 footcandles, meeting the U.S. GSA illumination recommendations. However, luminance levels (commonly called brightness) in the employee's field of view can cause glare. This glare may cause some of the visual discomfort reported by employees. The CO2 concentrations in the call center ranged from 410 to 635 ppm during this evaluation; outdoor concentrations were 380 ppm. Indoor CO2 concentrations were similar to outdoor concentrations, suggesting that the call center ventilation was adequate. Temperature in the call center ranged from 68 degrees F to 76 degrees F, and relative humidity ranged from 43% to 49%, compared to an outdoor temperature of 60 degrees F to 71 degrees F and relative humidity ranging from 49% to 54%. These values are within the ASHRAE-recommended thermal comfort guidelines. We measured airflow at 71 of 86 ceiling diffusers. Airflow ranged from 0 cfm to 917 cfm, demonstrating that supply air was not evenly distributed to all occupied areas of the call center by the ventilation systems. We were unable to measure airflow at all diffusers because of furniture or file cabinets blocking access. We received 283 completed employee surveys (85% response rate) on job stress, work-related health and safety concerns, and psychosocial factors at work. Participants' reported levels of job stress and concerns for their health at work were moderately high. Most participants reported very little concern for their own personal safety at work. Some employees indicated that they were concerned about being physically attacked by a member of the public on the building grounds or by another call center employee. To address job stress, work-related health and safety concerns, and psychosocial factors we recommended creating a joint management and employee health and safety committee. We also recommended that a system be created for employees to document health and safety concerns. Management should use this system to keep employees informed about how concerns are being addressed. Suggestions for ways to reduce job stress were also provided. We recommended testing and balancing the ventilation systems and modifying the lighting design policy to take employee perception and satisfaction into consideration. Management should look into different parabolic louver designs that may better control light into the work area and reduce glare for employees working nearby. A guard rail should be installed on the loading dock that is used as an employee break area.
Region-9; Indoor-air-pollution; Indoor-environmental-quality; Job-stress; Cancer; Cancer-rates; Office-workers; Lighting-systems; Lighting; Work-organization; Work-practices; Work-operations; Questionnaires; Eye-irritants; Author Keywords: Administration of Human Resource Programs (except Education, Public Health, and Veterans' Affairs Programs); call center; office building; IEQ; lighting; ventilation; job stress; psychosocial; cancer
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
HETA-2012-0081-3169; B20130124
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division