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New ISO standard on the basic principles of ergonomics

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Car park ticket machines, computer keyboards, equipment for use in a cold store – these are just three varied examples of the millions of products that should be safe for people to use, accessible and should not pose unreasonable difficulties to operate. To achieve this, they must incorporate ergonomics principles into their design. A new ISO standard on ergonomics will therefore help optimize human well-being and overall system performance.

“A substantial number of ergonomics standards have been developed to cover specific issues and different application domains, but ISO 26800:2011, Ergonomics – General approach, principles and concepts, will serve as an umbrella reference for all such standards and provide an integrated framework bringing together the basic principles and concepts of ergonomics in one document, and thus providing a high-level view of the way in which ergonomics is applied“, commented Georg Krämer, Chair of ISO Technical Committee that developed the standard.

“It is the first time where the “general ergonomics approach” and “principles and helpful “concepts” for the understanding and application of ergonomics principles, are presented in a comprehensive way in one standard”, he added.

Whatever the context (work, leisure or home), the underlying principles of ergonomics remain the same. These principles are fundamental to the design process wherever human involvement is expected, in order to ensure the optimal integration of human requirements and characteristics into a design.

ISO 26800 describes these fundamental principles in order to improve safety, performance and usability (effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction), while safeguarding and enhancing human health and well-being, and improving accessibility, e.g. for elderly persons and persons with disabilities.

Ergonomics addresses the interactions between the humans and other components of a system, such as other humans, machines, products, services, environments and tools, as appropriate, in order to optimise human well-being as well as the overall system performance. In ergonomics, a human-centred approach to design is fundamental, taking into account the specific nature of the task and its implications for the human.

The intended users of this standard are designers, ergonomists and project managers, as well as managers, workers, consumers and procurers. Its specific goal is to facilitate task performance, safeguard and enhance the safety, health and well-being of the worker, or the user/operator of products/equipment, by optimizing tasks, equipment, services, and the environment.

This standard deals with the ergonomic approach, the principles of ergonomics, the concepts of ergonomics, and the ergonomics-oriented design process and conformity.

The standard presents the general ergonomics approach and specifies basic ergonomics principles and concepts. These are applicable to the design and evaluation of tasks, jobs, products, tools, equipment, systems, organizations, services, facilities and environments, in order to make them compatible with the characteristics, the needs and values, and the abilities and limitations of people.

ISO 26800:2011, Ergonomics – General approach, principles and concepts, was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 159, Ergonomics, subcommittee SC 1, General ergonomics principles, and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 92 Swiss francs, through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department (see right-hand column).