Workplace design should accommodate a variety of employee shapes and sizes and provide support for the completion of different tasks. Work should be organized so that the employee has some choice about his/her working position and be given the opportunity to change position frequently.
The type of work will determine the work surface height:
- Precision work, such as writing or electronic assembly—4 inches above elbow height.
- Light work, such as assembly line or mechanical jobs—just below elbow height.
- Heavy work with demanding downward forces—4 to 6 inches below elbow height.
NOTE: If the work surface is not adjustable, provide a platform for shorter workers or pedestals on the work surface to raise the work up for taller workers.
The height of the workstation should consider the physical characteristics of the worker population.
- Using the illustration below, keep frequently used tools or items close to and in front of the body 13 to 17 inches from each shoulder, and use the secondary area (the shaded area) for less frequently used items.
- Avoid placing needed tools or parts above shoulder height, below knee height, or behind the employee.
- Ensure that items to be lifted are kept between mid-thigh and chest height.
- Use a sloping work table whenever possible to tilt the work up reducing neck and trunk forward flexion.
If the surface of the floor is concrete or metal, anti-fatigue matting should be provided at the workstations.
- Ensure that the matting has a sloped or beveled edge to avoid a tripping hazard.
- When installing anti-fatigue matting, be sure to consider the application in which it will be used and requirements such as chemical spill resistance, oil resistance, heat resistance, etc.
- At standing workstations, provide employees with either a stand-alone footrest or rail at least 4 to 6 inches high. Elevating a foot puts the arch (called “lordosis”) back in the low back, combats fatigue, and helps in recovery.
Your feet can only be as comfortable as the footwear permits.
- Wear shoes that do not change the shape of your foot.
- Choose shoes that provide a firm grip for the heel. If the back of the shoe is too wide or too soft, the foot will slip causing instability and soreness.
- Wear shoes that allow freedom to move your toes. Pain and fatigue result if shoes are too narrow or too shallow.
- Ensure that shoes have arch supports. Lack of arch support causes flattening of the feet.
- Tighten the lace instep of your footwear firmly. This helps prevent the foot from slipping inside the shoes or boots.
- Use padding under the tongue of the shoe or boot if you suffer from tenderness over the bones at the top of the foot.
- Consider using shock-absorbing cushioned insoles when walking or standing on cement or metal floors.
Standing for long periods should be avoided whenever possible. If possible, a chair or stool should be provided to reduce standing time.
Three examples of seating that could be provided to reduce standing: