With the publication of the 3rd edition of IEC61010-1, and subsequent issuing of harmonized standards UL/CSA61010-1 and EN61010-1, the term “Ergonomics” became an integral part of these standards. A new section was added to the standard – Section 16 “Hazards Resulting from Application”. This section includes new Ergonomics requirements that must now be considered by manufacturers of all Laboratory, Test, Measurement, and Control Equipment.
Section 16 – Hazards Resulting from Application: Section 16 of the standard contains two sub-clauses:
- Clause 16.1 – Reasonably Foreseeable Misuse: This clause is not related to Ergonomics. This clause simply indicates that if there is a reasonably foreseeable misuse of the product that is not addressed by the standard, that Section 17 of the standard is applicable. Section 17 is titled “Risk Assessment” – see Weekly Whitepaper #63 for this topic.
- Clause 16.2 – Ergonomic Aspects: “Ergonomics” is a new requirement within the “61010-1” standards. Ergonomics falls under “Risk of Injury” hazard protection. In general, the application of ergonomics involves improving user comfort and product ease of use to increase productivity. Ergonomics from a product safety perspective is aimed at protecting the user from injury hazards involving severe lack of comfort and difficulty in using the product, to the extent that it can result in an injury (physical or cognitive).
These broad definitions help us understand the concept of Ergonomics. However, the Ergonomics requirements in the “61010-1” standards are very limited. Clause 16.2 states “if the following factors could give rise to a Hazard, a Risk Assessment shall be documented”:
- Limitation of body dimensions
- Displays and indicators
- Accessibility and conventions of controls
- Arrangement of terminals
- The Ergonomics requirements only apply when at least one of these four areas of consideration apply and it presents a hazard to the user.
- If the Ergonomics requirements apply, the only requirement is to have a Risk Assessment that addresses at least these four areas of Ergonomics.
- If any of these four specified areas is a consideration, a Risk Assessment should be prepared for the product that documents your mitigation methods. If the product does not present any of the four specified Ergonomic concerns, a Risk Assessment and Ergonomics review is not required.
Applying the Requirements: The limited scope specified in clause 16.2 indicates that the primary concern is operator exposure to accessible hazards when utilizing product controls = can the operator be exposed to a hazard when trying to use the product?
- Are indicators, displays, or controls located in a position that might lead to inadvertent contact with a hazard?
- For example, does the operator need to reach across hazardous voltage terminals to operate the product, potentially exposing the operator to a Risk of Shock?
- For example, is the product so large or controls positioned such that some operators may not be able to safely reach critical controls? (i.e. due to limited arm length or limited height)
Conclusion: The Ergonomics requirements in Section 16 of the “61010-1” standards only apply if at least one of the four areas of consideration are present and there is an associated hazard to the user. If these limited conditions do not apply, there are no Ergonomics requirements. However, if these Ergonomic considerations present a possible hazard, a Risk Assessment must be prepared that details steps applied to mitigate the hazards presented by displays, indicators, terminals, and controls as well as hazards presented to users with limited body dimensions.
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