Visual fatigue during control room work in process industries

Work. 2020;65(4):903-914. doi: 10.3233/WOR-203141.


Background: Working in front of computer screens is visually demanding and related to adverse eye symptoms. Occurrence of glare further increases visual fatigue.

Objective: This paper presents results from an examination of visual ergonomics in control room environments at two Swedish process industries.

Methods: Visual conditions were examined and evaluated in nine control rooms and eighteen process operators answered questions about their perceived workload and visual experiences.

Results: When working in the control rooms, the mental workload was rated significantly higher by the participants, compared to experienced performance. The operators further experienced significantly higher visual fatigue and blurred vision compared to double vision and sore eyes. Visual demands were increased in conditions where contrast glare was present, as well as frequent changes of focusing distances, and low contrast between background and characters in computer screens.

Conclusions: Suboptimal visual working conditions in the control rooms contributes to increased visual demands on the operators. Presence of glare is leading to visual fatigue and an unnecessary high mental load. The findings support the relevance of considering principles of general and visual ergonomics when designing and organizing work in control rooms. Workstation design should also be flexible to allow for individual and contextual adjustments.

Keywords: Visual demands; contrast glare; lighting design; workload.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computer Terminals / standards
  • Computer Terminals / statistics & numerical data
  • Ergonomics / standards*
  • Ergonomics / statistics & numerical data
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lighting / adverse effects
  • Lighting / standards
  • Lighting / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vision Disorders / etiology*
  • Vision Disorders / psychology
  • Workload / psychology
  • Workload / standards
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data