Working at the Appropriate Work Surface Height

Posted by Fit For Work on Sep 25, 2017 1:00:00 PM


A common question we receive is, "What height should this standing workstation, conveyor, shelf, etc. be at?" The answer depends on the following:

  1. The type of work being performed – inspection work, general assembly, intricate assembly, packing, palletizing, etc. The more detailed/intricate the nature of the work, the closer the items need to be to eye level.
  2. The profile height of the item(s) being handled, as well as how they are handled. Larger profile items accessed on top require a lower work surface height than the same size item accessed on the side. Smaller profile items require a taller work surface height to bring the item into the proper work zone. 

Here's the trickier part...

  • The average person (50th percentile male/female) is approximately 5'6", with an elbow height of 42" and a waist height of 40".
  • Smaller males/females (5th percentile) are approximately 5'0" with an elbow height of 38" and a waist height of 37".
  • Larger males/females (95th percentile) are approximately 6'0" with an elbow height of 46" and a waist height of 45".

So, how do we provide a recommended work surface height with these variables to consider?

Adjustability is nearly always the best option to design for most of the population. Be sure to factor the type of work, profile heights of items, and how the items are accessed or manipulated to determine how much of a range of adjustability should be incorporated.

If adjustability is not available or possible and a fixed work surface height must be determined, base the height on the average person (50th percentile male/female) and the nature of the work, profile heights of the items, and how the items are accessed/manipulated to bring the working height to waist level.

While not ideal, we can incorporate modified changes to accommodate for smaller and larger-statured workers. We can also recommend platforms (properly designed to reduce the likelihood of slips, trips, and falls) for smaller-statured individuals and chairs/sit-stand stools for larger-statured workers.


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Topics: Ergonomics

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