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Office Ergonomics Standards Standards for office ergonomics, the design of workspaces, and the work environment help employers and employees maintain productivity and safe working conditions. Office ergonomics standards provide guidance to designers of office space, workstations and office equipment. Facility managers and safety officers are also concerned with these standards as back, neck, and spinal injuries, and repetitive stress injuries impact performance and attendance. The standards cover visual displays and computer keyboards, office chairs and desks as well as office environmental factors such as lighting, noise, ventilation and temperature that affect significant numbers of people.

A selection of office ergonomics standards are listed here that specifically deal with office work. Some are applicable to tasks common in many types of offices and across widely differing industries such as telecommunications, medical or scientific. Combined with training, awareness and other good practices, these standards can help improve the workplace.

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CSA Z412-00 (R2011)
Guideline on Office Ergonomics
Incorporates ergonomics into a step by step process for the optimal design of office systems including the design of jobs and work organization layout of the office environmental conditions and workstation design It is intended predominately for office workers and employers who are responsible for health and safety or ergonomics programs in the workplace It will however also be useful for facility designers purchasers building maintenance health and safety regulatory agencies and manufacturers and designers associated with office ergonomics


BS 3044:1990
Guide to ergonomics principles in the design and selection of office furniture (British Standard)


ISO 9241-1:1997
Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) - Part 1: General introduction
This part of ISO 9241 introduces the multipan standard on ergonomic requirements for the use of visual display terminals for office tasks: provides guidelines for a user-performance approach; gives an overview of all parts of ISO 9241 currently published and of the anticipated content of those in preparation; provides some guidance on how to use ISO 9241; describes how conformance to ISO 9241 should be reported. For the purposes of ISO 9241, office tasks are taken to include a wide range of generic text and data processing tasks. Due to the similarity of these tasks to tasks performed in other environments, e.g. medical, scientific, telecommunications, control rooms and public access, many of the requirements in ISO 9241 are appropriate to these environments as well. ISO 9241 does not cover electrical safety of VDTs. This is covered by IEC 950.

This standard is also available from: ISO Amendment 2001  /  BS  /  DIN  /  ON  /  ON Amendment 2002  /  SS


ISO 9241-2:1992
Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) - Part 2: Guidance on task requirements
Guidance is relevant to both the organization implementing the system and the people using the equipment and should be applied in accordance with local, regional or national agreements and regulations. The objective is to enhance the efficiency and well-being of the individual user by applying ergonomics knowledge in the light of practical experience, to the design of tasks. The ergonomics principles concerned are set out in ISO 6385.

This standard is also available from: BS  /  DIN  /  ON  /  SS


ISO 9241-5:1998
Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) - Part 5: Workstation layout and postural requirements
This part of ISO 9241 specifies ergonomic guiding principles which apply to the user requirements, design, and procurement of workstation equipment for office tasks using VDTs. In particular, the general principles and requirements specified in this part of ISO 9241 apply to the standards specifying technical design of furniture and equipment constituting the workplace.

This standard is also available from: BS  /  DIN  /  ON  /  SS


ISO 9241-6:1999
Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) -- Part 6: Guidance on the work environment
This part of ISO 9241 provides guidance on basic principles for the ergonomic design of the work environment and the workstation, taking into account lighting, effects of noise and mechanical vibrations, electrical and magnetic fields and static electricity, thermal environment, space organization and workplace layout. This part of ISO 9241 is applicable to the work environment and workstation in those work systems where a visual display terminal (VDT) is used for office work. However, this part of ISO 9241 does not specify the technical characteristics of the equipment needed to satisfy those equipment-related guidelines associated with the work environment.

This standard is also available from: BS  /  DIN  /  ON


ISO 9241-11:1998
Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) - Part 11: Guidance on usability
ISO 9241-11 defines usability and explains how to identify the information which is necessary to take into account when specifying or evaluating usability of a visual display terminal in terms of measures of user performance and satisfaction. Guidance is given on how to describe the context of use of the product (hardware, software or service) and the relevant measures of usability in an explicit way. The guidance is given in the form of general principles and techniques, rather than in the form of requirements to use specific methods. The guidance in ISO 9241-11 can be used in procurement, design, development, evaluation, and communication of information about usability. ISO 9241-11 includes guidance on how the usability of a product can be specified and evaluated. It applies both to products intended for general application and products being acquired for or being developed within a specific organization. ISO 9241-11 also explains how measures of user performance and satisfaction can be used to measure how any component of a work system affects the whole work system in use. The guidance includes procedures for measuring usability but does not detail all the activities to be undertaken. Specification of detailed user-based methods of measurement is beyond the scope of ISO 9241-11, but further information can be found in Annex B and the bibliography in Annex E. ISO 9241-11 applies to office work with visual display terminals. It can also apply in other situations where a user is interacting with a product to achieve goals. ISO 9241 parts 12 to 17 provide conditional recommendations which are applicable in specific contexts of use. The guidance in this Part of ISO 9241 can be used in conjunction with ISO 9241 Parts 12 to 17 in order to help identify the applicability of individual recommendations. ISO 9241-11 focuses on usability and does not provide comprehensive coverage of all objectives of ergonomic design referred to in ISO 6385. However, design for usability will contribute positively to ergonomic objectives, such as the reduction of possible adverse effects of use on human health, safety and performance. ISO 9241-11 does not cover the processes of system development. Human-centred design processes for interactive systems are described in ISO 13407.

This standard is also available from: BS  /  DIN  /  ON


ISO 9241-12:1998
Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) - Part 12: Presentation of information
This part of ISO 9241 provides ergonomic recommendations for the presentation of information and specific properties of presented information on text-based and graphical user interfaces used for office tasks. It provides recommendations for the design and evaluation of visual presentation of information including coding techniques. These recommendations can be utilized throughout the design process (for example as guidance for designers during design, as a basis for heuristic evaluation, as guidance for usability testing). The coverage of colour is limited to ergonomic recommendations for the use of colour for highlighting and categorizing information (see ISO 9241-8 for additional recommendations for the use of colour). This part of ISO 9241 does not address auditory presentation of information. Interface design depends upon the task, the user, the environment and the available technology. Consequently, this part of ISO 9241 cannot be applied without a knowledge of the design and the context of use of the interface, and it is not intended to be used as a prescriptive set of rules to be applied in its entirety. Rather, it assumes that the designer has proper information available concerning task and user requirements and understands the use of available technology (this may require consultation with a qualified ergonomics professional as well as empirical testing with real users).

This standard is also available from: BS  /  DIN  /  ON  /  SS


ISO 9241-13:1998
Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) - Part 13: User guidance
This part of ISO 9241 provides recommendations for user guidance attributes of software user interfaces and their evaluation. User guidance as defined in this part of ISO 9241 is information additional to the regular user-computer-dialogue that is provided to the user on request or is automatically provided by the system. In addition to the general guidance provided in this part of ISO 9241, recommendations concerning dialogue-specific user guidance are provided in ISO 9241-12, ISO 9241-14, ISO 9241-15, ISO 9241-16 and ISO 9241-17. This part of ISO 9241 is applicable to interaction components that aid users in recovering from error conditions. User guidance as covered by this part of ISO 9241 includes recommendations specific to prompts, feedback and status, error management and on-line help as well as general recommendations common to all these types of user guidance. While user support can be provided via other means (e.g., on-line tutorials, on-line documentation, intelligent system performance aids) these types of support are not addressed by this part of ISO 9241-13. The recommendations in this part of ISO 9241 are formulated to be independent of applications, environment, or implementation technology. They correspond to typical situations involving special needs for information and actions. As with other parts of ISO 9241, this part of ISO 9241 can apply in all or in part. For example, applications that do not have browsable help would not need to follow recommendations concerning this class of user guidance.

This standard is also available from: BS  /  DIN  /  ON  /  SS


ISO 9241-14:1997
Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) - Part 14: Menu dialogues
This part of ISO 9241 provides conditional recommendations for menus used in user-computer dialogues to accomplish typical office tasks. The recommendations cover menus presented by various techniques including windowing, panels, buttons, fields, etc. These recommendations can be utilized throughout the design process (e.g., as guidance for designers during design, as a basis for heuristic evaluation, as guidance for usability testing). Interface design depends upon the task, the user, the environment, and the available technology. Consequently, ISO 9241-14 cannot be applied without a knowledge of the design and use context of the interface and it is not intended to be used as a prescriptive set of rules to be applied in their entirety. Rather, it assumes that the designer has proper information available concerning task and user requirements and understands the use of available technology (this may require consultation with a qualified ergonomics professional as well as empirical testing with real users). Although this is an International Standard, some of the conditional recommendations are based on Latin-based language usage and may not apply, or may need to be modified, for use with a different language. For example, in right-to-left languages those conditional recommendations oriented towards left-to-right reading may need to be modified and adapted. In applying those conditional recommendations that assume a specific language base (e.g., alphabetic ordering of menu options, compound titles), care should be taken concerning the intent of the standard when translation is required to a different language. The recommendations relate to the three major design components of user interfaces, i.e., dialogue, input, and output. Dialogue design determines the way in which a user is guided by the system to make inputs and influences the amount of control the user has over the dialogue. The dialogue should be designed to support the user in his/her actual work without the user being bothered by additional work caused by system peculiarities. Menu dialogue design is covered in this part of ISO 9241 in terms of designing the menu structure, providing facilities for menu navigation and defining the selection methods for menu options. Input design is concerned with how users input information into the system using various input devices. Menu options can be selected by means of one or more input devices such as an alphanumeric keyboard, function keys, cursor keys, pointing devices and voice (other devices are not excluded) depending on the task at hand and dialogue requirements, as well as on individual preferences. ISO 9241-14 provides conditional recommendations for the use of each of the input devices listed above. Output design is concerned with how data should be presented consistently and perceptibly distinct on the display. ISO 9241-14 provides conditional recommendations for the placement of options and option groups, the structure and syntax for textual, graphic and auditory options and presentation techniques to indicate option accessibility and discrimination. Providing users with the capability to alter the interface to suit their own needs has become a popular approach to software interface design. This is often a desirable feature of the interface. However, providing users with customization capabilities is not an acceptable substitute for ergonomically designed initial menus (i.e., default menus). It should be noted that customization of the menus may result in deviations from ISO 9241-14. Therefore, customization options also should be evaluated with respect to the recommendations in ISO 9241-14.

This standard is also available from: BS  /  DIN  /  ON  /  SS


ISO 9241-15:1997
Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) - Part 15: Command dialogues
This part of ISO 9241 provides recommendations for command dialogues used to accomplish typical office tasks using visual display terminals (VDTs). Command dialogues are sequences of instructions provided by the user to the system which, when processed, result in associated system actions. Users input (from recall, rather than selecting from a menu) complete or abbreviated command phrases (e.g. mnemonics, letters, function keys, hot keys in the order required by the command language syntax and the computer performs the activities initiated by the command(s) and their associated parameters. Interface design depends upon the task, the user, the environment, and the available technology. Consequently, ISO 9241-15 cannot be applied without a knowledge of the design and use context of the interface and it is not intended to be used as a prescriptive set of rules to be applied in their entirety. Rather, it assumes that the designer has proper information available concerning task and user requirements and understands the use of available technology (this may require consultation with a qualified ergonomics professional as well as empirical testing with real users) ISO 9241-1 5 applies to the use of command dialogues, either in conjunction with other dialogues (e.g. menus, direct manipulation) or as the primary dialogue technique (e.g. in the case of dumb terminals or where high speed is required in a particular application). In addition, this part of ISO 9241 provides recommendations for those key commands (i.e. function keys and hot keys) which represent commands within a command dialogue. If the command functions are evident from the nature of their representation (e.g. pictorial icons) and invoking these functions does not require memory on the part of the user, this would not be considered a command dialogue according to ISO 9241-15. Commands can be accessed through other dialogue techniques (e.g. menu options, forms, direct manipulation). However, these methods do not require recall on the part of the user and will be excluded from this part of the standard and will be dealt with in other parts. It also should be noted that ISO 9241-15 does not provide guidance for dialogues which use natural language.

This standard is also available from: BS  /  DIN  /  ON


ISO 9241-16:1999
Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) -- Part 16: Direct manipulation dialogues
This part of ISO 9241 provides guidance on the design of direct manipulation dialogues. In direct manipulation dialogues the user directly acts on objects on the screen; for example, by pointing at them, moving them and/or changing their physical characteristics (or values) via the use of an input device. Such objects are typically concrete, often graphical, representations of abstract software structures or capabilities and generally fall into two categories. Task object a metaphorical representation of a real-world artefact manipulated to support the user's task (e.g. a sheet of paper, pen, spanner, graph). Interface object an object introduced into the interface so that the user can perform tasks related to the use of the computer application or system. This introduced object may be a real-world object but the metaphor is not directly related to the user's real work task (e.g. button, slider, window, screen). Objects and their representations on the display are referred to as objects, except where it is necessary to make a clear distinction. Interfaces that use stereoscopic or virtual reality-type interfaces are not covered in this part of ISO 9241. In practice, the term direct manipulation is often used interchangeably with graphical user interfaces (GUIs). However, within GUIs other dialogue techniques, such as menu dialogues or command dialogues, are often implemented as well. Though GUIs can provide many direct manipulation features, not every user input in GUIs can be interpreted as direct manipulation. For example, printing a document by moving a document icon upon a printer icon implies a higher degree of direct manipulation than a mouse click on a push button labelled "print". This part of ISO 9241 covers usability issues of direct manipulation dialogues. Recommendations on GUI components are given only if they are related specifically to features of direct manipulation. Features of direct manipulation dialogues such as step-by-step input may be inefficient (e.g., if one wishes to delete all files starting with "d"). Therefore, other interaction techniques; for example, command input or menus, may be more appropriate and are typically used to supplement direct manipulation.

This standard is also available from: BS  /  DIN  /  ON  /  SS


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