The Art of Making Ergonomics Checks During Design Phases
Katie Grosteffon 1/17/18
Incorporating ergonomics during the design of a workstation or job task is much more cost-effective than redesigning it once it’s in production. Ideally, ergonomics reviews should occur throughout the process to identify and design out potential concerns and to ensure the product is manufactured safely. But, what if a physical product or workstation doesn’t yet exist? For those tricky scenarios, follow the tips below.
Evaluating force without a physical part is difficult, but referring to key learnings from current problematic parts and working with designers to make improvements to those parts can help. You can also examine drawings for features that could cause a high push force, such as interference with other parts or clips that are too close together.
When reviewing 3D drawings, include a human image to estimate postures and to determine if extreme bending or reaching could result. Talking with a designer about moving parts or changing an installation point could also make a positive difference.
Maintaining enough finger and hand space clearance around a part is important; if the space is too tight, design changes will be required.
Estimate the weight of a part to calculate a NIOSH Lifting Index score. If the score is too high, consider, changing the material or structure of the part to reduce the weight.
Every design decision is a trade-off between cost, performance, customer demand, safety, etc. Don’t expect to win every battle and fix every ergonomics issue that is identified. Fix what you can, and for those you can’t fix, get started on planning equipment and workstation designs to mitigate risks that come from product design.