INTRODUCTIONErgonomics is the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements,and its cognitive abilities.The International Ergonomics Association defines ergonomics as follows:Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding ofinteractions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory,principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall systemperformance.Ergonomics is employed to fulfill the two goals of health and productivity. It is relevant in the design ofsuch things as safe furniture and easy-to-use interfaces to machines and equipment. Properergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can develop over time andcan lead to long-term disability.
OverviewErgonomics is concerned with the ‘fit’ between computers and their technological robots andenvironments. It takes account of the users capabilities and limitations in seeking to ensure thattasks, equipment, information and the environment suit each user.To assess the fit between a person and the used technology, ergonomists consider the job (activity)being done and the demands on the user; the equipment used (its size, shape, and how appropriate itis for the task), and the information used (how it is presented, accessed, and changed). Ergonomicsdraws on many disciplines in its study of humans and their environments,includinganthropometry, biomechanics, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, industrialdesign, kinesiology, physiology and psychology.Typically, an ergonomist will have a BA or BS or BD in Psychology, Industrial/Mechanical Engineeringor Industrial Design or Health Sciences, and usually an MA, MS or PhD in a related discipline. Manyuniversities offer Master of Science degrees in Ergonomics, while some offer Master of Ergonomics orMaster of Human Factors degrees. In the 2000s, occupational therapists have been moving into the field of ergonomics and the field has been heralded as one of the top ten emerging practice areas.According to the International Ergonomics Association Physical ergonomics: is concerned with human anatomical, and some of the anthropometric, physiological and bio mechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity. Cognitive ergonomics: is concerned with mental processes, such as perception, memory, reasoning, and motor response, as they affect interactions among humans and other elements of a system. (Relevant topics include mental workload, decision-making, skilled performance, human-computer interaction, human reliability, work stress and training as these may relate to human-system and Human-Computer Interaction design.) Organizational ergonomics: is concerned with the optimization of socio technical systems, including their organizational structures, policies, and processes.(Relevant topics include communication, crew resource management, work design, design of working times, teamwork, participatory design, community ergonomics, cooperative work, new work programs, virtual organizations, telework, and quality management.)
Applications More than twenty technical subgroups within the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES)indicate the range of applications for ergonomics. Human factors engineering continues to besuccessfully applied in the fields of aerospace, aging, health care, IT, product design, transportation,training, nuclear and virtual environments, among others. Kim Vicente, a University of TorontoProfessor of Ergonomics, argues that the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl is attributable to plantdesigners not paying enough attention to human factors. "The operators were trained but thecomplexity of the reactor and the control panels nevertheless outstripped their ability to grasp whatthey were seeing [during the prelude to the disaster]."Physical ergonomics is important in the medical field, particularly to those diagnosed withphysiological ailments or disorders such as arthritis (both chronic and temporary) or carpal tunnelsyndrome. Pressure that is insignificant or imperceptible to those unaffected by these disorders maybe very painful, or render a device unusable, for those who are. Many ergonomically designedproducts are also used or recommended to treat or prevent such disorders, and to treat pressure-related chronic pain.Human factors issues arise in simple systems and consumer products as well. Some examplesinclude cellular telephones and other hand held devices that continue to shrink yet grow morecomplex (a phenomenon referred to as "creeping featurism"), millions of VCRs blinking "12:00" acrossthe world because very few people can figure out how to program them, or alarm clocks that allowsleepy users to inadvertently turn off the alarm when they mean to hit snooze. A user-centereddesign (UCD), also known as a systems approach or the usability engineering life cycle aims toimprove the user-system.
Ergonomics in the workplaceOutside of the discipline itself, the term ergonomics is generally used to refer to physical ergonomicsas it relates to the workplace (as in for example ergonomic chairs and keyboards). Ergonomics in theworkplace has to do largely with the safety of employees, both long and short-term. Ergonomics canhelp reduce costs by improving safety. This would decrease the money paid out in workers’compensation. For example, over five million workers sustain overextension injuries per year.Through ergonomics, workplaces can be designed so that workers do not have to overextendthemselves and the manufacturing industry could save billions in workers’ compensation.Workplaces may either take the reactive or proactive approach when applying ergonomics practices.Reactive ergonomics is when something needs to be fixed, and corrective action is taken. Proactiveergonomics is the process of seeking areas that could be improved and fixing the issues before theybecome a large problem. Problems may be fixed through equipment design, task design, orenvironmental design. Equipment design changes the actual, physical devices used by people. Taskdesign changes what people do with the equipment. Environmental design changes the environmentin which people work, but not the physical equipment they use.
SEWING ROOM SETUP FOR HEALTHY SEWINGSetting up a sewing floor ergonomically is of paramount importance in regard to physicalwell-being. Sewing, cutting and ironing in positions that tax your posture lead to fatigue,muscle pain, and chronic or serious conditions of the spine. Just as you measure and adjust apattern to make a garment fit, so should you measure to find the proper heights for yoursewing table, cutting table and ironing board.Today, corporate work spaces are ergonomically designed, which simply means body-friendly. Millions of dollars are spent each year on repetitive motion injuries, forcingcompanies to address the comfort and health of their workers. Ergonomics are very importantwhen it comes to sewing since poor posture and awkward positions will result in early fatigueand pain in the shoulders, neck and back. The four areas to be considered in the sewing roomare your chair, sewing table or cabinet, cutting table and ironing board. Proper lighting is alsoimportant and will be addressed in another guideline.FACTORS EFFECTING FOR HEALTHY SEWING ROOMThe right chairSewing chairs need to be adjustable in height and have good back support. You should beable to sit directly in front of the machine needle and sit with your feet flat on the floor. Ifyou are bending your back when you sew, your chair height is too high. Chairs that swiveland have rollers add convenience.First, sit all the way back in the chair with your back against the chair back. Do not sit on theedge of the seat. Sitting improperly can cause myriad health problems ranging from poor legcirculation to upper back, neck, shoulder and hand pain.
A good chair has the following features:Pneumatic Seat Lift: This enables the seat height to be adjusted to accommodate the lengthof the legs. A good chair will have a warranty on the pneumatic lift and will not break downin a year.Padded,Articulating,Waterfall Seat: Articulating means that the seat can be tilted to belevel or to slant down in the front. A waterfall seat curves down at the front edge (behindyour knees), reducing the pressure on the back of the leg, which impedes circulation. Be sureto sit in a chair before purchasing it. If the chair’s seat is too deep from front to back, the seatwill cut into the back of the legs and impede circulation. If it is too shallow, it won’t provideenough support.Adjustable, Soft Armrests: Armrests support the weight of the arms, relieving the shouldersof undo stress. Again, sit in the chair and adjust the armrests to fit. If the armrests are set toowide, or too close for your comfort, and the armrest width is not adjustable, the chair does notfit you.Lumbar Support: A good chair will have an adjustable back with lumbar curve. The chair’sback should raise and lower, so you can adjust it to fit the curve of your back. Sitting in theChair When sitting, your knees should be slightly lower than your hips. Your seat and hipsshould be fully “in” the chair with your back against the back of the chair. Position your legsout in front of you at a comfortable angle with your feet touching the floor. If your sewingtable height is not adjustable and the chair is, you may need to raise the chair to fit the table andput a footrest under the chair to support your legsFull Spectrum LightingFull spectrum lighting is creating a buzz in the sewing community. It is the best simulation ofdaylight available, reducing eye fatigue. It is also known as true color lighting because it istrue clear light which does not distort color.
Cutting Surface SizeYour cutting table or surface should be at least 30 inches wide and 60 inches long. Thecutting table should be accessible from both sides.StoolsStools are great for working at higher surfaces, such as ironing boards and the cutting table.To get the right height, use an adjustable stool or buy one with wooden legs and cut to theright height for you.Hanging AreaYou will need a place to hang clothing. Whether a bar or hooks, it needs to be about 70inches off the floor so full length garments can hang freely.FloorsConsider the pros and cons of different floors: care, wear and tear, comfort, and noise level.Carpeting is comfortable and quiet, however, pins are easily lost in carpeting and threads arehard to pick up. Hard surfaced floors are easier to clean but are usually noisier and scratcheasier.ElectricityKeep in mind where electrical outlets are when deciding how to set up your sewing room.Extension cords can be dangerous; their use should be limited. Power strips and surgeprotectors with circuit breakers are recommended, especially for irons and machines.WallsThe color and surface of the walls will affect lighting. Dark colors will absorb the light,making the room darker than lighter shades. However, bright white glossy surfaces willreflect the light and cause unwanted glare. Soft colors with a matt or semi-gloss surface arebest.
Machine HeightThe bed of your machine should be 25-29 inches high. If your machine sets on top of a table,the table height needs to be lower than if you have a sewing machine cabinet with a recessedarea that the machine sets in. The depth of the sewing table should be at least 20 inches.SunlightSunlight is the most natural and best light available. However, direct sunlight can produceglare and fatigue. Adjust the direction of the sunlight and the amount you get with placementof equipment in relation to windows and use of window coverings.VentilationFabrics are often treated with chemicals for shipping and storage. Dry-cleaned material andgarments release chemical fumes. Working with fabric produces large amounts of dust andlint. To reduce fatigue, make sure that your work area is well ventilated with fresh air.Efficient Work AreaDesign the layout of your work area for maximum efficiency. Consider the three basicfunctions performed in this area: cutting, sewing, and pressing. It is important to be able tomove quickly and freely between these areas. Keep this “work triangle” in mind whendesigning your sewing area.Task lightsTask lights are direct lights used to enhance specific work areas, especially for close up work.Where you place task lights will depend on the task and your personal preference. Useadjustable task lights to eliminate shadows. Most tasklamps use incandescent bulbs.
Pressing SurfaceAn adjustable ironing board will allow you to find the most comfortable height for pressingand change the height depending on whether you decide to work standing or sitting. If youhave a fixed height pressing surface, make sure it is set so that you can work withoutexcessive bending or reaching.Halogen LightsHalogen lights provide lighting that resembles natural daylight and are energy efficient.However, the bulbs get extremely hot and must be used with caution to prevent fires. Neverleave halogen lights on when you are not working in the room.Fitting AreaA good fitting area will be located in front of a full length mirror. The floor surface should behard and even for measuring hem heights. The area needs to be large enough for a person towork on all sides of the person being fit.Cutting Table HeightThe ideal height for your cutting table will depend on your height. The height is generallybetween 34 and 40 inches high. It is better for your back if you can work without bendingover. If your table is not high enough, consider putting it up on blocks.Indirect LightingOverhead lighting and floor lamps will provide indirect light to the room. Well placed andsufficient indirect lighting will reduce shadows. Fluorescent lights provide good indirect lightand are energy efficient.PosturePracticing good posture will protect your neck and back. Proper height of seating and worksurfaces will protect you posture. If you are doing a repetitive task, take breaks and stretchoften.
Material Handling Employees may sometimes have to move large rolls of uncut fabric or large bundles of cut fabric from delivery, or between stations. Some of the risks identified with this operation, and possible solutions, are listed below. Moving Bulk Fabric and Materials Moving Cut Fabric Moving Bulk Fabric and Materials Potential Hazards: When moving bulk materials, employees may have to lift heavy items and lift with awkward postures, which may result in back and shoulder injuries (Fig. 1). Lifting objects with arms fully extended or lifting from floor level or above shoulder level may cause injury to the back, shoulders, and arms (Fig. 1). Repeated torso twisting while lifting may also cause low back injuries. Fig. 1 Lifting from floor level and with awkward postures. Possible Solutions: Design stations to allow most lifts at waist level. Use spring-leveling carts and elevating tables (Fig 2). Use mechanical lifts, ceiling tracks or carts to transport the fabric to reduce the risk of injury to the employee. Use rollers, which may reduce the need to hold the load while reorienting it, and will reduce force needed to move the load. Have fabric rolls delivered in smaller, easier-to- move rolls. Remove any barriers that prevent bringing the Fig. 2 load closer to the body. Design stations to allow most lifts at waist level. Train employees to use proper lifting techniques.
MOVING CUT FABRICPotential Hazard: Employees repeatedly bend at the waist and reach into transportation tubs to load or retrieve cut fabric, causing stress on the back and arms Reaching into cart. Employees repeatedly bend to lift bins or bundles of fabric Earl Dotter Bending to lift bin.
Employees lift bins or bundles over chest height, which may cause injury to the shoulders and back Earl Dotter Lifting over chest height. Force applied while pushing or pulling carts containing fabric pieces or scraps may cause injury to the arms and back Thread and scraps of material may clog the wheels, causing the worker to apply more force when pushing or pulling carts. Pushing carts.
Possible Solutions: Use height-adjustable carts to reduce the need to bend or reach into the carts Height-adjustable cart. Design stations to allow most lifts at waist level Use bins with good handles to make lifting easier Use bins with good handles and design stations to allow lifts at waist level. Remove any barriers that prevent bringing the load closer to the body. Train employees to use proper lifting techniques. Use force-reducing castors, wheels, and carts. Institute a cart/wheel maintenance program. Well maintained carts require less force to move. Emphasize good housekeeping, which keeps debris from building up and blocking moving carts. Force-reducing wheel.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF FASHION TECHNOLOGY,CHENNAI DEPARTMENT OF FASHION TECHNOLOGY ASSIGNMENT ON APPLICATION OF ERGONOMICS IN A SEWING FLOOR DATE -19-09-2011 SUBMITTED BY PRIYANSHU RANA SUVROJIT MUKOPADHYAY SUBMITTED TO RUSSAL TIMOTHY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR NIFT,CHENNAI