Skip to main content

Florescent lighting + long hours in front of screens = sore eyes, blurry vision, and headaches. If you are monitoring critical operations you have experienced, or will likely experience, these symptoms. For this reason, dispatch console lighting has quickly risen to the top as a critical addition to the dispatcher’s tool kit. Flexible task lights are even better and here’s why.


Discomfort contributes to high churn

The value of focused task lighting is not lost on the operators who sit in dimly lit centers. The battle over the light-switch is rivaled only by the battle over the thermometer (read Heating & Cooling Options for Dispatch Consoles for more).

The impact of “comfort inequity” may seem trivial to some. However, ­911 team leaders know that details matter when it comes to dispatcher engagement. And with the highest rate of churn in the public safety sector, they need to be sure that dispatchers have workstations that boost needs - health, comfort and safety.

When a dispatcher is comfortable, they focus more clearly and for longer periods of time, on the more complex tasks at hand. Task lights relieve discomfort and promote focus.

bright screens

Eye strain in 911 dispatch environments shares that "Americans report experiencing the following symptoms of digital eye strain:

  • 32.6 percent report experiencing eye strain
  • 22.7 percent report experiencing dry eyes
  • 21.4 percent report experiencing headache
  • 22 percent report experiencing blurred vision."

For dispatchers, the numbers can be even higher. The concern about eye strain among 911 dispatchers even made it into The Back School’s discussion forum:

Question: “In one of the sites I recently attended for a presentation on Ergonomics, they showed me the room for the 911 dispatcher calls. Their complaints are related to eye strain. They have fluorescent lighting with a very high ceiling in a large room. They have tried glare resistant monitor covers, wearing sunglasses, but still would like another option… Any suggestions?”

Response: “The first question is: Do they need to read hard copy information as well of read from a computer screen? If so, then you generally want to decrease overhead light and provide task lights over the documents. The easiest way would be just to remove some of the bulbs from the florescent fixtures…"

Notice that the ergonomics specialist specifically calls out task lighting as beneficial for desk-top work.

A critical solution for increasing 24/7 shift work comfort

Paired with ambient light, dispatch console lighting extends the user’s health benefit. Task lights soften contrast and increase focus for reading and note taking.


According to the CCOHS, "a good visual environment will:

  • have sufficient light, coming from the right direction and not cause obscuring shadows,
  • provide good (but not excessive) contrast between the task and the background,
  • limit glare and extreme contrasts, and provide the right type of light."

When thoughtfully positioned at the dispatcher's workstation, dispatch console lighting improve lighting in each of these ways and support the screen-to-desk-to-screen eye shifts that dispatchers make regularly. In addition to the regular tasks at hand, task lights are beneficial for side-by-side training in PSAPs and other monitoring environments.


Integrated task lights are ideal for side-by-side training

Training is critical for dispatchers. Keeping pace with technology, community dynamics, and shifting personnel all play a part in efficiently managing a call.

This is why more centers are making room for regular, side-by-side training in the main call-center. It is important to have amenities at the workstation that facilitate smooth learning. Task lighting is one of these tools.

When asked about side-by-side training comfort, dispatchers regularly respond that a wider worksurface is better. They also note that flexible dispatch console lighting for both the trainer and trainee is helpful.

The Mercury console has two goose-neck task lights that can be positioned for one of two users (shown below). The single-touch switch is centrally located within easy reach.


Not all dispatch console lighting is equal

When shopping for dispatcher workstations you should be aware that not all dispatch console lighting is equal. Be sure you have identified what your team will use task light for – independent focus, side-by-side training, additional ambient glow.

Are your stations shared by multiple users? If so, there is value in choosing flexible or goose-neck lights. Being able to move the light focus around the worksurface provides teams optimal flexibility. Evaluate the features and benefits of task lights and identify the right one for your team.

Mounting/placement - The task light(s) should not reduce surface work space. Integration into the surface dash is optimal.

Switch/control - A single-touch control should be located within the primary reach zone. This allows dispatchers to quickly react to changing needs at the workstation.

Multiple lights - Specify multiple task lights per surface. This accommodates side-by-side training and multi-tasking between calls.

Flexible - Be sure the task light has a flexible neck within reach of the operator.

Energy-efficient - Low-watt/energy efficient dispatch console lighting is good for your bottom line.


Share this free e-guide with your purchasing team

It provides guidance about asking questions and discovering features that will positively impact the operator and agency.


Stay Connected with Watson

Receive more articles like this right to your inbox.