Design Ergonomic Risks Out of Equipment

April 5, 2013
New e-book addresses how to translate ergonomic design features into specifications when sourcing workstation components and machine tools.

Purchasers of work stations must focus on space planning to reduce exposure to hazards and design out ergonomic risk, according to Josh Kerst, vice president at Humantech, and author of a new e-book, “Six Ways to Apply Ergonomics in Design.”

Furthermore, ensuring products and equipment are designed “ergonomically” should be the responsibility of the user’s engineering team, not the equipment supplier, he contends.

“Relying on suppliers to tell you that their products and equipment are ergonomically designed is not a good practice, and could lead to mistakes or cause injury,” he explains, adding that many equipment manufacturers will claim their equipment is “ergonomic” when no study has been conducted to prove it.

He recommends that end users educate their engineering team so theydevelop a common language with the ergonomist involved in a project. He also suggests that designers and engineers spend time performing the actions of the jobs they design. This approach generally results in that “aha” moment—when it is made clear that the job they designed is outside a person’s physical limitations. Understanding the relationship between work and people is the key to designing a successful organization, he writes.

Kerst boils down the essential ergonomic design considerations to six simple practices, one of which is educating engineering . The others include:

· Establish ergonomic design specifications (for example, material safety data sheets (MSDS), lock-out/tag-out (LOTO), machine guarding, fire safety, and more.

· Manage constraints by including both large and small anthropometrically accurate people in design drawings to highlight boundary issues;

· Conduct an ergonomic design review (EDR) meeting in which you’ll screen the design for ergonomic acceptability by summarizing the severity of and root causes for current risks;

· Validate designs and share successes with other departments in the company.

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