KANBrief 2/12

The new EN ISO 26800 basic ergonomics standard

Ticket machines, household appliances, computer keyboards: any device intended for use by human beings should be not only safe, but also easy to reach and use. Irrespective of the environment in which it is used (work, home, leisure), the underlying ergonomic principles are always the same. These principles have now been summarized for the first time for all applications in a single standard: EN ISO 26800, published in November 2011.

EN ISO 26800 “Ergonomics – General approach, principles and concepts” serves as a generic ergonomics standard and was developed in order for the essential principles and concepts of ergonomics addressed by other standards to be placed within a common framework. The standard presents generic principles which are of fundamental importance for the design of products. It also explains four concepts which can be referred to for a better understanding of these principles and for their application (see diagram).

The purpose of the standard is to assure the ergonomic design of systems and products by applying the principles and concepts over the entire life cycle. This means that designers must consider the needs and characteristics of future users from the first product design onwards and give consideration to ergonomics not only during normal use, but also during maintenance and disposal.

In addition, the standard is intended to serve as a basis for the development of more specific individual standards. Reference is made by way of example to certain existing ISO standards governing particular ergonomic aspects.

Load-effects model now universally applicable

It is important for ergonomics and for those responsible in companies for the organization of work that ergonomics standardization does not develop concepts for the world of work which are divergent or, worse, conflicting. The loadeffects model was therefore identified in 2009 as the core ergonomic principle of ergonomics standardization overall. This model is the guiding concept behind EN ISO 6385 “Ergonomic principles in the design of work systems”, the main part of which was developed in 1975, and has now also been adopted in EN ISO 26800. 


Prof. Dr. Sascha Stowasser
Chairperson of the “Principles of Ergonomics” working committee in the DIN Ergonomics Standards Committee

ifaa – Institute for Applied Occupational Ergonomics and Industrial Engineering