Ergo Design Standards - Focus on the Critical Few

Like many things, the Pareto Principle applies to the application of ergonomic design standards. By correctly identifying and applying 20% of the available ergonomic design standards, you will address 80% of your ergonomic hazards.

The question becomes how do you determine what 20% to focus on? Begin by evaluating your work environment along with past injury statistics to determine your major hazards. In our experience it is often manual material handling—the lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying that employees perform. Whatever it is, make sure to focus on developing, training, and executing on the critical few design standards that will provide the biggest return on investment.

Some of the more critical ergonomic design standards include forces/weights, workstation design (working heights and reaches), environment (lighting, noise, and temperature), and work schedules (breaks and rotation).

One of the keys to good ergonomic design standards is using relevant anthropometric data. Anthropometry refers to the measurement of humans for the purpose of understanding human physical variation. It plays a critical role in industrial design and ergonomics where statistical data about the distribution of body dimensions in the population is used to optimize human performance. 

For example, if your work population is predominately female, reference female characteristics for working height, arm reach, and eye height. The good news is that many countries have established anthropometric databases for different population groups, and this data is readily available to the public. Sometimes the most difficult part is finding the right data set. Atlas is here to help—please contact us for assistance.