New ANSI Standard Addresses Workstation Ergonomic Issues

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), a member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), recently announced a new standard that addresses the design of workstations, furniture and computer systems to reduce workplace-induced back pain and eyestrain among American workers.

ANSI/HFES 100-2007, Human Factors Engineering of Computer Workstations, was published in Standards Action on Nov.16, replacing and updating the previous workstation standard (ANSI/HFS 100-1988), which was “administratively withdrawn” in 1998.

From eyestrain caused by insufficient lighting to wrist pain from improper keyboard and mouse use, ergonomically appropriate systems are a critical component of a safe and healthy work environment, HFES said.

Furthermore, according to the American Chiropractic Association, more than half of all working Americans admit to having back pain each year, an ailment largely attributable to poor workstation posture.

To help prevent such ergonomic-related injuries, the new standard increases the number and types of input devices to include guidelines for computer mice and other pointing mechanisms. Additionally, the standard’s displays section has been extended to cover color devices.

In an effort to correct the misunderstanding that the 90-degree posture referenced in ANSI/HFS 100-1988 was "the" correct working posture, the furniture chapter now provides a total of four working postures for design reference.

Finally, the integration chapter demonstrates how individual ergonomic elements can be integrated into a larger, ergonomically appropriate workplace system.

According to HFES, more than 50 experts participated in the revision committee’s work over a 20-year period to produce the new standard.

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