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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 Z412-2017

Office ergonomics ù An application standard for workplace ergonomics

Preface This is the third edition of CSA Z412, Office ergonomics ù An application standard for workplace ergonomics. It supersedes previous editions published as guidelines in 2000 and 1989 under the title Guideline on Office Ergonomics. The present edition includes updates to reflect new technology and work practices, and is now presented in the form of a standard rather than a guideline. The objective of this Standard is to apply ergonomics to enhance user health, safety, and well-being and to optimize system performance in order to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses or to reduce the severity of harm related to occupational activities in offices. Scope 1.1 This Standard specifies requirements for the Application of Ergonomics in offices. It applies to all office users in office workspaces in new and existing buildings, and includes some requirements for non-traditional workspaces (i.e., vehicles and home offices). Whenever office is used in this Standard, it refers to users in one or more of these settings. 1.2 This Standard does not apply to medical management programs or to practices that could be considered part of a medical management program, such as therapeutic or clinical interventions. This Standard does not contain information pertaining to the design of software or information technology devices and displays. This Standard does not contain requirements pertaining to electromagnetic forces (EMFs). This Standard is not a product compliance standard and therefore does not address safety, durability, and structural adequacy of products. This Standard does not contain information on acoustics related to the construction of building shells or exterior noise sources. Notes: 1) Design and presentation of software can play a large role in promoting efficient and healthy office work. ISO 9241, Parts 11 to 16, Part 110, and Part 143 provide guidance in this area. 2) Requirements for the safety, durability, and structural adequacy of furniture products are provided in ANSI/BIFMA X5.5, ANSI/BIFMA X5.6, ANSI/BIFMA X5.9, CAN/CGSB-44.227, and CAN/CGSB-44.229. 1.3 This Standard is intended for those who are involved in health, safety, ergonomics, and the design/build and operations of office workspaces, including a) employer representatives; b) office users and their representatives; c) architects, designers, facility planners, building service providers, and purchasing personnel involved in the design of new office work systems, the renovation of existing office work systems, or the procurement of new furniture, accessories, and equipment; d) professional groups (ergonomists, industrial hygienists, engineers, and related specialists); and e) designers and manufacturers of products. This Standard may be used as a reference by health and safety agencies and regulatory agencies. 1.4 In this Standard, shall is used to express a requirement, i.e., a provision that the user is obliged to satisfy in order to comply with the Standard; should is used to express a recommendation or that which is advised but not required; and may is used to express an option or that which is permissible within the limits of the Standard. Notes accompanying clauses do not include requirements or alternative requirements; the purpose of a note accompanying a clause is to separate from the text explanatory or informative material. Notes to tables and figures are considered part of the table or figure and may be written as requirements. Annexes are designated normative (mandatory) or informative (non-mandatory) to define their application.



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.


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.


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.


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.


ISO 9241-11:2018

Ergonomics of human-system interaction - Part 11: Usability: Definitions and concepts

ISO 9241-11:2018 provides a framework for understanding the concept of usability and applying it to situations where people use interactive systems, and other types of systems (including built environments), and products (including industrial and consumer products) and services (including technical and personal services). NOTE In this document, the phrase object of interest refers to the system, product or service for which usability is being considered (see 8.1). ISO 9241-11:2018: - explains that usability is an outcome of use; - defines key terms and concepts; - identifies the fundamentals of usability; and - explains the application of the concept of usability. ISO 9241-11:2018 does not describe specific processes or methods for taking account of usability in design development or evaluation. The intended users of this document include: - usability/ergonomics/human factors professionals; - designers and developers of systems, products and services; - quality assurance personnel; - public and corporate purchasers; and - consumer organizations. The most common applications of this document are in design and evaluation.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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