I often get asked about what to look for when defining purchasing specifications. As ergonomists, we seek out product features that fit into design guidelines which accommodate 90 to 95 percent of the population. However, you may not have these guidelines on hand, so here are some considerations to help you buy like an ergonomist during your next product or workstation investment.
- Workstations: Check the hand-working height (the height where the work is actually being done, which may mean measuring beyond the work surface to incorporate the product and any tools being used on the product). Consider your keyboard on a desk surface, the height of the keyboard may actually add an inch or two in height.
- Chairs: Is the chair fully adjustable with adequate lumbar support? Many people think you need to spend a lot of money to get a great chair, but if the chair is fully adjustable and provides adjustable lumbar support, it can be a great option for those on a budget.
- Positioning Tools: Will the positioning tool allow me to raise items off the ground, to achieve a hand-working height above the knees and below the shoulders? A positioning tool is great for manual material handling from pallets or storage on the floor.
- Desk/Workstation Setup: Can you reach everything on your workstation within one arm’s length without leaning forward? If not, you may need to reorganize and put items you access every day within that range.
- Grips and Tools: Are the tools you are buying designed with grips that allow the operator to grasp with a strong power grip? Are the surfaces hard or lined with semi-compressible material? Buying a tool which provides a gripping surface which promotes strength can improve tool use.