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Ergonomic Control Room Console Design Considerations

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

Ergonomics can be defined as the study of people in their working environment. More specifically, an ergonomist designs or modifies the work to fit the worker, not the other way around - EHS

Ergonomics in the Control Room

The exponential rise of technology has brought many advantages and efficiencies inside the control room. However, with operators often using multiple screens for extended periods of time, fatigue and muscle strain can cause lower productivity and decreased work satisfaction. At Sustema, we are committed to integrate the latest ergonomic standards into the design and manufacturing of our consoles.

Risk Factors

One of the main risk factors in 24/7 work environments are users spending extended periods of time working in static positions. This includes their sitting position, neck, back, and hand postures. The causes include:

  • Awkward postures: Maintaining an awkward, unsupported, or fixed posture such as bending, reaching, or twisting for prolonged periods of time.

  • Excessive repetitions: Doing the same motions over and over again.

  • Excessive force: Physical exertion or pressure on any part of the body while lifting, pushing, pulling, or gripping a tool.

  • Contact Stress: Pressure by tools, edges, or hard surfaces on soft tissues of the body. The palms and elbows are often at high risk. (Source)

Advantages of Ergonomic Work Environments

Integrating ergonomic features in the control room work environment can benefit both employees and employers which is why Sustema control room consoles are designed to allow users to move and change posture throughout the day to maximize productivity and minimize fatigue. Advantages of an effective ergonomic design include (Source):

  • Reduced discomfort

  • Avoids injuries

  • Increases job satisfaction

  • Enhances productivity

Ergonomic Console Design

ergonomic control room work surface area
Ergonomic Reach Zone

Reach Zone: Reach zone refers to the work surface area in which the frequently used items can be reached easily. A console that is designed ergonomically will allow users to do so by simply extending the arm across the surface and avoiding them to have to stand up or stretch out.

  • The primary zone is where most of the work is performed ranges up to 14 to 15.5 inches for both females and males.

  • The secondary zone goes up to 23.5 to 26.5 inches for females and males when fully extending the arm. The secondary zone should be the maximum work area to abide by ergonomic standards. Tools or accessories found after the secondary zone also called the “non-working area” should not be used in daily tasks. 

Ergonomic Leg Clearance

Leg Clearance: Ergonomic consoles should allow users to stretch their legs and have enough knee clearance. In order to adhere to ergonomic standards, the depth under the desk should be more or equal to 24 inches. 

Ergonomic Knee Clearance

Knee Clearance: One main advantage of height-adjustable consoles is their ability to adjust to each user to provide them with the most conformable work position either seated or standing. For standing desks, the desk height which can be used to assess if there is enough knee clearance should be between 23 to 48 inches. For fixed consoles, the work surface should be set around 28 inches.

Ergonomic Passage Around Consoles

An aspect that is often overlooked when designing the floor layout is to include a safe passage between and around the consoles when including the chairs. The amount of space allocated between and around the console depends on the level of traffic in each area of the workspace, whether there is a wall behind the console or not, whether consoles are placed back to each other, and whether chairs are static or have wheels on them.

About Sustema

Sustema specializes in the design and manufacturing of technical furniture and consoles for IT-intensive mission-critical work environments. Sustema has help thousands of clients across North-America implement ergonomic furniture for their control rooms, command centers, and 9-1-1 dispatch centers.

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