KANBrief 1/11

KAN workshop on anthropometry: applying human body dimensions correctly

In July 2010, KAN held a workshop on the subject of anthropometry in the field and crossing the gap between standards and designers. The workshop was prompted by recommendations made in KAN Report 44 concerning anthropometric data in standardization. The workshop participants discussed the current need for action and drew up a series of recommendations. These were approved by KAN at the end of 2010. The KAN Secretariat will therefore now promote their implementation.

Anthropometric data are of great importance in occupational safety and health. This was the conclusion of KAN Report 44, "Anthropometric data in standards", in which KAN made 14 recommendations for action. All the recommendations had the aim of making standards containing anthropometric data more user-friendly, up to date and consistent. For this purpose, a bridge must be forged between scientists (on the ergonomics standards committee) and users (such as designers or authors of product standards), in order to enable the latter to use anthropometric data properly in the interests of occupational safety and health and to design ergonomic products.

 Core points of the workshop

  • DIN SPEC (Technical Report) on the application of anthropometric data in standards: KAN Report 44 showed that correct application of anthropometric data is not as easy as it first appears. Based upon these results, the advisory council of the DIN Ergonomics standards committee therefore issued a recommendation to the responsible committee (Anthropometry and Biomechanics) that it develop a user guide in the form of DIN SPEC describing the correct selection and use of anthropometric data in a more widely comprehensible manner. KAN will support this measure by conducting a project in which the draft of the guide is to be produced.
  • Updating of DIN EN 60529:2000, Degrees of protection provided by enclosures: this standard sets out degrees of protection against contact with hazardous parts of electrical equipment. The scope covers mechanical hazards, as well as electrical hazards. Whether contact with hazardous parts is possible or not is determined by means of an articulated test finger which with a diameter of 12 mm and a length of 80 mm is intended to represent a real finger. KAN Report 44 recommended that the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (DKE) check whether the data for the test finger are still valid, since 80 mm may be assumed to be no longer sufficient, owing to the increase in index finger length. Since DKE has however not yet reviewed this value, KAN will support comparison with current data and will produce a report supporting adaptation of the test finger with regard to further important aspects.

DIN SPEC (Technical Report): What does the user need?
A number of criteria of importance for a user guide were identified during the workshop. It emerged that in many cases, anthropometric data cannot be considered in isolation. They are for example not sufficient on their own when trunk or joint angles do not permit certain movements. In the example of a driver's workplace, the prevailing growth in abdominal girth measurements must not lead to seats being placed so far away from control panels that the arms/ hands, which are not increasing correspondingly in length, are no longer able to reach the controls. Proper consideration of clothing, hair and fingernails must also be explained. Essential aspects were however also discussed, including whether designers should be permitted to design with respect to a specific user group, and whether products should be designed to be adjustable or against explicit dimensional criteria.

Challenges for the future
Besides development of a clearly understandable user guide, the challenge remains that of making up-to-date anthropometric data available. ISO is currently attempting to do this, by allowing each member to submit updated national anthropometric data of its own to ISO/TR 7250-2:2010, Basic human body measurements for technological design - Part 2: Statistical summaries of body measurements from individual ISO populations; adoption at European level anticipated in 2011. From a designer's point of view, however, application of this complex document is not easy. Ideally, the data should be available in design software, accompanied by the necessary information. The situation on the ground still falls far short of this, however. Although (commercial) software containing anthropometric data is available, the data are often out of date or of uncertain origin, and detailed instructions for their use are often missing entirely. KAN will continue to monitor developments in this area.


Anja Vomberg