Where do you start when you are asked to produce an ergonomically designed work space? Well professional designers would probably say the first step is evaluating what the space is going to be used for and then how to get the best out of it. But the absolute best way of starting to design is a robust proactive program which emphasizes the prevention of MSD (Musculoskeletal Disorder). This is done by recognizing and eliminating risk factors, by designing ergonomically.
The following is a short of checklist to help engineers to design what is needed.
Lifting and Material Handling Design
- Ensure that the vertical height of the handling material is at optimum level.
- Make sure of utilizing lifts and turntables when possible.
- Can the horizontal distance between starting and finishing points be decreased?
- Can the shapes of packaging and containers be changed to allow lifting close to the body?
- Is it possible to move objects without twisting?
- Is it possible to use cranes, hoists, fork-lifts, and work carts between work stations for the moving of heavy goods.
Ergonomic Workstation Design
- Is it possible to seat the worker?
- Can the height of the work station be adjustable?
- Can the workstation be at the optimum height of 42 inches?
- At standing workstations is the hand at the optimal height of 46 inches?
- Can operators perform their tasks with the arms and elbows close to the body?
- If the workers are seated are the chairs ergonomically designed?
- If the worker is performing static tasks can there be added support for wrists, elbows, feet, and arms?
- Is there proper lighting?
- Are there sufficient anti-fatigue mats?
- Is there adequate space for the largest and smallest worker?
Ergonomic Hand Tool Design
- Are hand tools able to operate with a straight wrist?
- Can hand tools be powered?
- Are hand tools able to be counter-balanced to counter weight?
- Are hand tools handles shaped to fit the fingers and hand?
- Are all sharp edges on hand tools eliminated?
- Are the hand tools that are powered designed that there is no excess of vibration or kick?
- Are hand tools dampened to avoid noise.
Ergonomic Visual Displays
- Is the display or screen at optimum viewing height?
- Can the information be easily and quickly read?
- Can you see the information without having to adjust the neck or head?
- If the display screen is at standing station, is it at the optimum height of 71 inches?
- If the display screen is at seated station, is it at the optimum height of 46 inches?
- Is the viewing distance no further than 30 inches?
- Are the display screen near the relevant control panels?
- Is it easy to see the pointer, and is it non-obstructive?
These four key areas of ergonomic design are not the only factors that have to be considered. Controls, seating, keyboards, monitors, and other design considerations also need to be taken into account in order to create a productive work space. Of course, there are also individual aspects, but the tips laid out above will surely hep with the process.