Evaluation of an ergonomically designed ironing workstation

Project No. BGIA 4151

Status:

completed 12/2009

Aims:

In the course of the "Model workplace for ironers" project conducted jointly with the BGAG (the Institute of Work and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance, now the IAG), and launched by the BGETF (the accident insurance institution responsible for the electrical, textile and precision engineering industries, now the BG ETEM), an ergonomic ironing station was created with the support of a manufacturer of ironing stations and workplaces. For this purpose, use was made of observations and measurements from the field and the results of a degree thesis in which the scope for ergonomic design of ironing stations was examined with the aid of a human model software application. The ironing station which was produced as a result was then made available to the IAG by the manufacturer for use in training courses in ergonomic practical facilities. For assessment of the station to be completed, it remained only for its use to be evaluated by experienced ironers. A comparative evaluation of the ergonomic ironing station and the conventional workplace was to be performed with regard to the stress. The evaluation, based upon body-posture measurements, was to be conducted in the ergonomics laboratory of the BGIA, the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance, under the most standard conditions possible.
The objective was to examine the effectiveness and efficiency of the ergonomic design measures in the interests of prevention. The project results serve as a basis for design recommendations for ironing stations, possibly in the form of a DGUV information publication, and are also to be made available to the IAG, which is to adapt them for use of the ironing station in the context of ergonomics training courses.

Activities/Methods:

In the laboratory, the body postures of experienced ironers during ironing work were recorded by means of CUELA measurements and documented, both at a conventional ironing station, and at the ergonomically designed ironing station. Based upon the results of these measurements, the physical stress at the stations and the effectiveness of the design measures were evaluated in the interests of prevention. In order to examine the efficiency, it was necessary to standardize the ironing work and to determine the quality of the ironing result. A method for assessing folds and creases, developed at the University of Bonn in the faculty of agricultural engineering, household technology section, was employed for this purpose.

Results:

The evaluation of the body posture and movement data obtained by means of the CUELA measurement system revealed that the redesigned ironing station follows good ergonomic principles. A technically simple facility for adjusting the height of the work surface, and automatic adjustment when the sleeve board is swivelled in, proved to be advantageous. In their current implementations, however, these features could be used only by a limited user group, since the height adjustment range did not take account of the 5th to 95th percentile of the body height distribution. With a mean body height of 1.60 m, the ironers who had been recruited as test subjects represented the lower percentile range of the body height distribution. For these users, the redesigned ironing station in its current form does not represent an ergonomic improvement. Repeat of the study, once the functional limitations in the height adjustment have been eliminated in consultation with the manufacturer if possible, would probably demonstrate clear ergonomic benefits. This hypothesis was supported by an additional CUELA measurement involving a test subject of average body height. This procedure would be desirable and promising, since the quality of the ironing results on the ergonomic ironing station were superior to those on the standard ironing station. Evaluation of the ergonomically redesigned workstation also yielded a positive result from an economic perspective, and met with strong acceptance among ironers.

Last Update:

06-Sep-2010

Project

Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • BGIA - Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung
  • BGAG - Institut Arbeit und Gesundheit der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung
Branche(s):

leather/textile/clothing

Type of hazard:

Arbeitsbedingte Gesundheitsgefahren, Mechanische Gefährdungen, Mehrfachbelastungen

Catchwords:

Arbeitsplatzgestaltung, Physische Beanspruchung/Belastung, Ökonomie und Effektivität der Prävention

Description, key words:

ergonomic workplace design, CUELA measurements, evaluation, stress reduction, quality and cost effectiveness, efficacy and efficiency of preventive measures