The Importance of Ergonomics and Anthropometry in Workplace Design
Ergonomics is the study of the natural conduct of the human organism during work, with the aim of fitting the job to the worker. The word ergonomics comes from the Greek words "ergon" meaning work, and "nomos" meaning law or popular standards. In other words, it is the study of how to design jobs, equipment, and environments to be safe and comfortable for people to work in. By considering ergonomics in the design process, organizations can improve the health and well-being of their workers, and enhance their overall productivity and performance.
Ergonomics is the scientific discipline that studies the interactions between humans and other elements of a system, with the goal of optimizing human well-being and overall system performance. Anthropometry, on the other hand, is the study of the measurements of the proportions, size, and weight of the human body. While ergonomics considers a wide range of factors that can affect human performance and well-being in a given environment, anthropometry focuses specifically on the physical characteristics of the human body. Both fields are important in designing environments, equipment, and tasks that are safe, comfortable, and efficient for people to use.
A brief history of ergonomics
The term "ergonomics" was first used in its full sense in 1949, but the study of ergonomics has a long history. Pioneers in the field include Leonardo da Vinci, who first identified the body's reaching abilities around each joint, and Jean Borelli, who established the body's acceptable levels of weight lifting. Vauban was influential in determining the duration of reasonable working shifts and the importance of breaks and days off. Many other doctors, physiologists, psychologists, and engineers have contributed to the study of ergonomics, developing methods for calculating people's abilities to work, identifying their limitations, and defining the working conditions that are best for them.
The impact of ergonomic design on operator health in a command center
The objectives of implementing ergonomic principles into a command center include fitting the job to the worker, preventing negative afflictions, and creating a work environment that is least stressful, most comfortable, and most productive. By considering ergonomics in the design of furniture and equipment, it is possible to prevent negative effects on the human body and ensure that people are able to sustain the physical and mental demands of their work. This can help to minimize stress and fatigue, and prevent the acceleration of aging or deterioration of physical and psychological health. Ultimately, the goal is to maintain the health and productivity of workers in the command center.
Understanding Ergonomic Guidelines for Effective Design
There are several organizations and publications that provide guidelines and recommendations for the implementation of ergonomic principles. The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) are two key organizations in this field. Some notable publications include the American National Standard for Human Factors Engineering of Visual Display Terminal Workstations (ANSI/HFS 100-1988) and the National Human Factors Engineering of Computer Workstations (ANSI/HFES 100-2007), which is considered to be the most comprehensive, the highest level of expertise and is the most current ergonomic standard in the world at this point in time. These guidelines provide recommendations on a wide range of factors that can affect human performance and well-being in the workplace, including lighting, temperature, and the design of equipment and furniture.
The Role of Human Percentiles in Creating a Comfortable and Effective Command Center
When designing for a wide range of user sizes, it is common to use anthropometric data expressed in percentiles. This is because body size can vary widely, and using averages alone is not sufficient. Instead, it is necessary to deal with ranges of sizes. Percentiles are a way of expressing these ranges, indicating the percentage of people within a population who have a certain body dimension. For example, the 5th percentile female height means that 95% of the female population is taller, and only 5% of the population is the same height or shorter. This allows designers to take into account the full range of body sizes when designing products or environments.
The Importance of Keyboard Surface Height in Ergonomic Design
When designing a keyboard work surface, it is important to consider the heights of the work surface in relation to the user. Typically, designers and engineers will use either the 5th percentile female measurement or the 95th percentile male measurement, depending on the needs of the design. For example, the maximum height of a keyboard work surface should be based on the elbow height of the 95th percentile male, which is approximately 48 inches. The minimum height should be determined according to the 5th percentile female elbow height when seated, which is approximately 22 inches. This is why many sit-stand stations have keyboard work surfaces that are adjustable from 23 to 48 inches.
In addition to adjusting the height of the work surface, it is also important to consider good posture when using a keyboard. Recommended elbow angles are between 70 and 135 degrees, and torso-to-thigh angles should be equal to or greater than 90 degrees. Armrests on chairs should be positioned directly under the elbow height. These recommendations can be achieved through adjustments to the work surface and the chair.
How to Choose the Right Monitor and Viewing Distance for an Ergonomic Workstation
When designing a monitor work surface, it is important to consider the height of the surface in relation to the user's eye level. The minimum and maximum heights should be based on the eye height and eye height sitting measurements of the 5th percentile female and 95th percentile male, respectively. The horizontal eye level should be aligned with the top of the monitor screen, and the center of the visual display screen should be located 15 to 25 degrees below horizontal eye level. This means that the surface heights should be adjustable from 27 to 53 inches, which accommodates screens that are up to 15 inches high.
In addition to adjusting the height of the work surface, it is also important to consider the viewing distance when using a monitor. The recommended viewing distance is between 20 to 39 inches from the eyes to the front surface of the screen. To comply with this recommendation, some monitor arms and shelves are adjustable, allowing users to position the monitor at the optimal distance and height.
The Importance of Horizontal work envelope in Ergonomic Design
To determine the optimal placement of office accessories on a work surface, it is important to consider the main tasks that the user will be performing. The most commonly used items should be placed within the primary work zone, which is the shape swept out on the work surface by rotating the forearm horizontally at elbow height. This recommendation is based on the 5th percentile female. For example, if the main items used are a keyboard and mouse, they should be placed within the forearm reaching envelope, with limited twisting of the body. The secondary zone is the extended forearm reaching envelope, where other accessories such as a telephone or pencil tray can be placed.
The minimum width of a workstation is based on the forearm-to-forearm breadth of a 95th percentile male user, with an additional 3.3-inch margin for postural adjustment. This is strictly an anthropometric requirement and ensures that users have sufficient space to perform their tasks without discomfort or strain.
Applying Ergonomic Principles to clearance under the worksurface in a Command Center Design
Clearances under the work surface of a control console should be designed to accommodate users ranging from the 5th percentile female to the 95th percentile male. This means providing sufficient space for the operator's thighs, knees, legs, and feet, while also allowing the work surface to be low enough for devices such as keyboards and monitors. For this reason, height clearances are recommended to be adjustable from 20 inches (for the 5th percentile female) to 28 inches (for the 95th percentile male).
In terms of width and depth, a minimum of 21 inches is needed for legroom, and 24 inches is needed for foot clearance. At the level of the knee, the clearance should be at least 17 inches. These recommendations ensure that users have sufficient space to move and work comfortably at the control console.
If we look at this chart, comparing human standards with our Transit and Focus stations, we can see that Sustema's products meet or exceed these standards. The first column shows the ANSI/HFES requirements, the middle column shows the specifications of the Transit console, and the last column shows the specifications of the Focus console in relation to the standards described in the first column.
In conclusion, ergonomics plays a crucial role in command centers, as it helps to prevent negative impacts on the operator's health and can enhance productivity. By applying ergonomic principles to work stations, we can ensure that operators are able to work comfortably and efficiently, while also promoting healthy living conditions in the long term. The key to successful ergonomic design is adjustability. By providing adjustable work surfaces, chairs, monitors, and other office accessories, we can accommodate a wider range of users and ensure that everyone is able to work comfortably and productively.
If you want to create a comfortable and productive work environment for your operators, consider implementing ergonomic principles in the design of your control console. By using ergonomic guidelines and taking into account the unique needs of your operators, you can create a control center that maximizes efficiency and minimizes the risk of physical and mental health issues. Contact us today to learn more about how ergonomics can benefit your command center.