What can I do to reduce the glare in my workspace?
August 24, 2006 2:00 PM   Subscribe

What can I do to reduce the glare in my workspace?

It's an open office with cubicles about 4 feet high. On the ceiling, spaced 4 feet apart are flourescent light fixtures, each with two tubes. The desk surface inside my cube is white. Ever since the maintenance guy replaced the burnt out tube in the fixture above my desk, I've been overwhelmed with glare. There's so much light around me that I'm constantly squinting and getting headaches. They won't let me take the bulbs out of the fixture.

Any suggestions, beyond wearing sunglasses to work?
posted by nessahead to Work & Money (9 answers total)
The fixture has a plastic cover, right? As those covers age, they become more and more opaque. Even the dust collecting on the inside of the cover makes it more opaque. Graphite is like dust, pure black carbon.
Plumbago [Graphite dust] is a VERY black, messy, easily spread dust. It will wash off of skin with detergent and water, but some materials, especially plastic, can be permanently discolored. The stuff drifts easily in the breeze.

Health Info:

Plumbago may contain small amounts of free silica. Free silica can cause silicosis of the lungs or cancer. Always use a respirator mask when using Plumbago. Graphite dust can also create explosive conditions when dispersed in the air. Use adequate ventilation and keep away from any ignition source.
posted by orthogonality at 2:12 PM on August 24, 2006

Fluorescent lights are the bane of the universe.
Things I've seen people do:

Cover the light with paper (inside and/or outside of the plastic cover)
Don't remove the lightbulb, but wiggle it until it disconnects from the socket, but still is left in place.
posted by j at 4:14 PM on August 24, 2006

To cut down on the glare from your countertop, can you cover it with a tablecloth or something?
posted by IndigoRain at 4:21 PM on August 24, 2006

To help with your monitor, you may want to get some kind of hood (sorta like a visor on a baseball cap) they can be made pretty easily from matte board available at any framing shop.

As for the desk, riffing on IndigoRain's idea, how about putting down some light absorbing materials, dark construction paper placemats, folded sweatshirt, dark binders, a calendar/ desk blotter, whatever and just strategically placing them around your desk in places where you are catching glare from.
posted by quin at 5:01 PM on August 24, 2006

If they won't let you take it out, perhaps they'll let you replace it with a full-spectrum bulb? You could always say something about workplace morale or eyestrain, and not say anything about the less-bright bulb you're secretly planning to get.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:51 PM on August 24, 2006

i agree with everybody's suggestions about reducing glare. could you reorient your workspace to catch the light slightly differently? that sometimes helps. is there anybody who could give you an ergonomics evaluation of your cubicle? the lighting is giving you eyestrain, and there's a decent chance your company will have to do something to change that. it's a work safety issue.

i only say this because i had to sit through a 4 hour seminar on ergonomics in the workplace, and lighting played a suprisingly important role.
posted by kendrak at 11:03 PM on August 24, 2006

Unfortunately, there's no cover on the fixture. It's just two bare flourescent lightbulbs, incessantly searing my eyeballs.

The maintenance people in this building watch the light fixtures like hawks. I think I'd get in trouble for unplugging/covering them.

Covering my counter sounds like an excellent idea. I'll find some cloth this weekend and wrap it around the table top. Secure it underneath with duct tape?

The ergonomics evaluation sounds like a great idea. I will definitely talk to HR about that.

Thanks, all!
posted by nessahead at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2006

nessahead writes "Unfortunately, there's no cover on the fixture. It's just two bare flourescent lightbulbs, incessantly searing my eyeballs."

OOOwww, that sounds like an OSHA violation. Or at least something you could convince a credulous and liability-avoidant middle manager was an OSHA violation.
posted by orthogonality at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2006

Thank you!
posted by nessahead at 3:42 PM on August 31, 2006

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