If workplaces were designed ergonomically, there would be fewer injuries, people would be more productive, and the quality of their work would be better. Don’t believe me? I challenged myself to come up with an everyday example of poor ergonomic design, for each of the design guidelines in our course. Please read the list….haven’t you been affected by these design issues?
Carts: Think grocery store parking lot, and snow. Add a little slope to the lot, and a cart full of liquids.
Clearance: Have you ever used a washroom stall at a restaurant that installed 3 toilets but really only had room for 2? And were you wearing a big winter coat? And you brought your toddler?
Containers: Why do heavy bags of water softener salt have to be designed so I can only lift and carry them with one hand?
Controls: To adjust the volume on my car radio, I have to reach out to arm’s length and tap on a touch screen bar to raise or lower the volume. If the road isn’t smooth, I can’t aim. And I can’t find the control by “feel” – I have to look. And don’t even get me started on the GPS…one mistake and I have to start back at the beginning!
Design for repair/maintenance: If your house is more than a few years old, you’ve probably had to do some serious sleuthing to figure out how to change the bulbs in your potlights.
Displays: Some day our grandkids will think it’s hilarious that we tried to read documents on a 3″ square screen on our “smart” phones.
Floor surface: It’s a pity that ceramic is the preferred kitchen floor material, since it’s really not comfortable to stand on for hours at a time.
Hand tool design: My sister-in-law uses scissors to cut bacon, but when I tried it, I didn’t have the grip strength to cut meat with my scissors. (She must have sharper scissors, or stronger hands.)
Hand work: Trying to open a sealed plastic clamshell will give you an idea of poor hand work design.
Lighting: Ever try to sort coins by year, in the basement?
Mechanical assists: Why, oh why, did they remove the conveyor after the check out at the warehouse store? Now all my groceries have to be shoved to the end of the table for packing into the cart. The clerk’s poor arm! My poor produce!
Personal protective equipment: My glove selection at home is not great – using thick, leather palmed gloves to pull weeds all day makes my hands tired!
Reaches: I long for a side-swinging door on my oven every time I have to check a cake for doneness.
Seating: If you’ve ever spent time in an emergency waiting room, you know about lousy seating.
Work design: Professional roofers would never think of starting a job at noon on a hot day and working straight through the afternoon….but DIYers have to learn the value of work design the hard way.
Work flow/conveyors: If you’ve moved to a new house recently, you will be more aware of the effort that goes into arranging items in your kitchen cupboards for “work flow”. Are your coffee mugs close to the coffee machine? Is bread close to the toaster?
Working height: When you’re asked to untangle a knot in a necklace worn by a toddler, you’ll recognize why detailed work should be performed above elbow height.
Join us on November 22 in Kitchener, to learn to apply detailed ergo design guidelines that would help you and your workplace avoid these issues. We still have several spots available.