Update of the literature review "Optimal lighting for shift work"

Project No. FF-FP 0445


completed 12/2020


Evaluation of the findings of the literature review "Optimal lighting for shift work" (2009) on the basis of publications on "Lighting during night work" from the past 10 years.

Extending and more specification of the Commission for Occupational Health and Safety and Standardization (KAN) literature review "Validated OSH-related findings concerning the non-visual effect of light upon human beings" (2018) .

Summary of new knowledge that can be used to verify and implement recommendations for illumination.

Clarifying of DGUV Information 215-220 with support on implementation by companies and providing occupational health and safety workers with concrete help for planning.

Assisting of ASTA in expanding its recommendations on "Artificial, biologically effective illumination of workplaces" .


Evaluation of literature concerning lighting effects in the context of night and shift work researching in national and international journals, conference proceedings, research reports and databases.

Selection of relevant contributions and a summary of new findings.

Derivation of specific recommendations on lighting requirements for night and shift work where possible.

Description of any already implemented lighting solutions which are of practical value.


The search in publications of the last 10 years yielded many confirmations of the abovementioned findings on the phase-shifting effect of light and the negative effects, but no recommendations that would justify the safe use of light to "treat" shift work problems by adjusting the rhythm. This view is also found in several researched reviews. For continuous night shifts or slow-forward rotating shifts, phase-shifting compromises are proposed that include other interventions besides lighting (e.g. fixed sleep schedule and timed light giving even during off hours).

The general consensus is that undesirable effects of light should be kept as low as possible. In this context, there has been increased research in recent years on whether light can also be activating without suppressing melatonin.

Several studies indicate that light without the strongly phase-shifting blue wavelength range can be used to ensure sufficient wakefulness during the night shift. The amount of light should be reduced to a necessary minimum.

As a result of this literature study, it is proposed to change the statement on "activation by light" with high blue components in DGUV-I 215-220 (as of 2018, p. 24) and to recommend rather warm white light without high blue components for activation. However, the evaluation of the literature does not give any reason to deviate from the other recommendations in DGUV 215-220 (as of 2018).

Last Update:

11 Apr 2022


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Technische Universität Ilmenau

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

work-related health hazards


workplace design, prevention, lighting

Description, key words:

literature review, shift work