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Designing Healthy Work Environments Vanessa del Aguila, M.Sc. AEP Associate Ergonomist Humanscale Corporation.

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Presentation on theme: "Designing Healthy Work Environments Vanessa del Aguila, M.Sc. AEP Associate Ergonomist Humanscale Corporation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Designing Healthy Work Environments Vanessa del Aguila, M.Sc. AEP Associate Ergonomist Humanscale Corporation

2 Understanding of current workplace trends Definition of ergonomics and common misconceptions Identification of musculoskeletal risk factors Essential ergonomic concepts Key elements of an ergonomic workstation LEARNING OBJECTIVES designing healthy work environments

3 The workplace is getting smaller; average square footage per worker has decreased by 17% since 1994 WORKPLACE trends “I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers.” - Thomas Watson, Chairman, IBM, 1943 Our workforce is aging; by the year 2015, 50% of the US population will be 40 or older Vision issues continue to be among the most common musculoskeletal complaints Laptop computers have become increasingly popular Home computing is compounding exposure to musculoskeletal risk factors

4 THE STAGGERING COST of lost productivity Survey randomly sampled 28,902 working adults A total of 52.7% of the workforce reported having headache, backache, back pain, or other musculoskeletal pain Average lost productive time was 5.2 hours per week Costs associated with common pain conditions and lost productivity in the U.S. is estimated at $61.2 billion per year Source:Stewart, W., et al. ‘Lost productive time and cost due to common pain conditions in the US workforce’, Journal of the American Medical Association, 290(18), 2003.

5 This workstation looks good but will not accommodate all Individual differences have not yet been addressed What is likely to happen next? IS THIS an ergonomically designed workstation?

6 Employees respond to discomfort through workstation modification. Your design vision is disrupted every time a work environment is reconfigured for productivity and comfort WHAT is driving the need for these accessories?

7 Employees redesign their workstations to compensate for poor design What kind of work experience is this organization providing to this employee? HOW does this happen?

8 Health, comfort and performance are moderated by design The job is not complete until individual differences are considered Workstations can be aesthetically pleasing and functional at the same time DESIGN to accommodate individual differences

9 Office ergonomics applies science to workplace design to maximize worker productivity while reducing operator fatigue, discomfort and injury. HOW DOES ERGONOMICS address these issues?

10 MINIMIZE awkward postures Minimize postures that require excessive muscle activity to maintain and tax the musculoskeletal system.

11 MAXIMIZE neutral postures Maximize your time spent in neutral postures that require minimal muscle activity to maintain

12 BREAK old habits Installing equipment does not necessarily solve postural problems Elevate your awareness of your posture throughout the day

13 KEY ELEMENTS of an ergonomic workstation 1)The chair 2)The keyboard and mouse 3)Monitor and document placement 4)Proper Lighting

14 1970s CHAIRS No controls No adjustability

15 Too many manual controls Adjustability not used 1980s and 1990s CHAIRS

16 chair adjustments ESSENTIAL CHAIR ADJUSTMENTS: Seat height Ergonomic chairs should offer adjustable: Seat depth Backrest / lumbar height Armrests Recline tension

17 Recline Tension Adjust the recline tension to support your body weight The backrest should move freely and support you throughout the recline range ESSENTIAL CHAIR ADJUSTMENTS:

18 KEY ELEMENTS of an ergonomic workstation 1)The chair 2)The keyboard and mouse 3)Monitor and document placement 4)Proper Lighting

19 ANATOMY of the wrist

20 EFFECT OF WRIST EXTENSION ANGLE Source:Weir, P, Wells, R. ‘The effect of typing posture on wrist extensor muscle loading’, Human Factors, 44(3), on intracarpal tunnel pressure Wrist extension angle, intracarpal tunnel pressure, and wrist extensor muscle activity are directly correlated 30 degrees of wrist extension correlates to a 27.5% increase in forearm muscle activity and greater than a two-fold increase in intracarpal tunnel pressure

21 A decade of ergonomics research shows that using a negatively sloped, adjustable keyboard tray maximizes the time spent working in neutral hand, wrist and upper body postures. These postural benefits can’t be achieved by just using a keyboard on a height adjustable work surface - Dr. Alan Hedge, Cornell University RECONSIDER keyboard and mouse position

22 Positioned hands in a neutral posture 62% of the time compared with 42% for the traditional KB position Predicted carpal tunnel pressure remained below the critical threshold 82% of the time compared with 48% for traditional KB position Significant improvements in upper body comfort found for shoulders, upper arms, neck and back 91% of those using the tray said it helped their work performance and preferred it to their previous system ARTICULATING KEYBOARD tray research findings, Hedge, 1995

23 MOUSING “The use of a computer mouse is not necessarily benign. Evidence is accumulating that computer mouse use is associated with a number of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders.” – Dr. Alan Hedge, Cornell University challenges Postural Risk Factors: Wrist Anchoring Wrist Extension Ulnar/Radial Deviation Over-pronation Design Challenges: One size does not fit all Most designs do not accommodate left handed users

24 DESIGN APPLICATION: to minimize wrist extension and contact stress

25 KEY ELEMENTS of an ergonomic workstation 1)The chair 2)The keyboard and mouse 3)Monitor and document placement 4)Proper Lighting

26 MONITOR and document placement The top line of text on the monitor should be at or slightly below eye level and at an arms reach The monitor and any documents for copy should be placed directly inline with the keyboard to minimize neck and trunk rotation

27 MULTIPLE MONITOR dilemma As monitor width increases, our viewing envelope is compromised As a result, monitors must be positioned further away, which can negatively effect our ability to view the screen Users prefer a viewing distance of 75-83cm; minimum distance is 40cm

28 MULTIPLE MONITOR arrangement Primary and Secondary Screens If a single screen is used for more than 70% of tasks, orient the primary monitor with the midline of the body Place secondary monitor adjacent, angled inward toward user

29 MULTIPLE MONITOR arrangement Two Screens, ‘Equal’ Usage If any single monitor is used between 40% - 60% of the day align the center of both monitors with the midline of the body. Angle screens inwards

30 FLAT PANEL MONITOR facts and considerations Flat panel monitors consume 60% less energy and emit 80% less heat than traditional CRT monitors Workstations designed with flat panel monitor technology can be 10-20% smaller and maintain the same usable work surface area The reclaimed space afforded by FPM’s is unusable unless the monitor is mounted on an adjustable arm

31 Courtesy of Architecture Magazine, June 2003 Neutral Reach Zone

32 Courtesy of Architecture Magazine, June 2003 Neutral Reach Zone

33 KEY ELEMENTS of an ergonomic workstation 1)The chair 2)The keyboard and mouse 3)Monitor and document placement 4)Proper Lighting

34 RECONSIDER existing lighting strategies Single source lighting schemes are inappropriate for accommodating today’s range of computer users

35 THE MONITOR/DOCUMENT CONFLICT Monitors generate light, while paper reflects light Reading paper-based documents requires 4-5 times more light than does viewing a monitor

36 LIGHTING REQUIREMENTS Relative Contrast Required as a Function of Age Age Relative Contrast Required as a function of age The need for task lighting increases with age Persons ages require more than 250% more contrast than persons ages Task visibility is the primary aspect of lighting that affects performance

37 60 Years Contrast requirements increase exponentially after age Years20 Years CONTRAST REQUIREMENTS as a function of age

38 Single component: Too much light above eyes High energy waste Dual component: Light level determined by user 30-40% less energy required BENEFITS of a dual component lighting scheme

39 RECONSIDER THE USE OF Under-Bin-Lighting Under-Bin-Lighting: Provides lighting away from where the tasks are actually occurring! Does not offer individual control of illumination level Is less energy efficient than most controllable task lights

40 Potential source of glareLight is away from where work is occurring RECONSIDER THE USE OF under-bin-lighting

41 ECONOMICS OF improved lighting technologies Dual component lighting schemes can reduce energy consumption by one third compared to conventional lighting systems A task and ambient lighting system is effective in reducing energy consumption because ambient illumination levels can be decreased while task illumination levels can be increased Comparison of energy consumption, before and after refurbishment Source: Akashi Y, Mukal K, Yanabe Y. A task and ambient lighting system providing energy efficient savings without decreasing the overall brightness impression

42 “Appropriate rest breaks, combined with stretching exercises, allow computer workers to sustain work at an appropriate pace, while minimizing postural injury risk.” – Alan Hedge, Cornell University ENCOURAGE Proper rest breaks allow the body to recover from repetitive stress Changing tasks is also beneficial 2-3 short rest breaks are recommended per hour micro breaks

43 ECONOMICS OF ERGONOMICS success stories of ergonomic implementations American Express Within four years claims dropped 80% from $484,000 in year 1 to $98,000 in year 5 AT&T Global Decline in lost workdays from 298 before implementation to 0 in the first two years Claims dropped 75% from $400,000 to $94,000 in first year Savings of $1.48 million Source: GAO/HEHS ‘Private Sector Ergonomics Programs Yield Positive Results’ Year Cost (in thousands)

44 FOUR KEY POINTS to remember about ergonomics 1.Ergonomics is a preventative, design based discipline 2.Ergonomic interventions can benefit the masses, not just those that are injured 3.Product interventions alone are not enough – training is an integral part of an ergonomic program’s success 4.See ergonomics as a benefit to an organization, not as a burden!

45 Thank you for your time! Questions? Vanessa del Aguila, M.Sc. AEP Phone:


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