Industrial seating and spinal loading
Little information is available in the literature concerning an ergonomic systems view of industrial seats. This study has been aimed at expanding knowledge of industrial seat design. For this purpose, a model for evaluating industrial seats has been proposed, listing demands and restrictions from the task and the workplace. It also includes responses and effects on the sitter, and methods of measurement for evaluating industrial work seats. The appropriateness of work seat design has been assessed in laboratory and field studies, using methods to measure body loads, their effects and responses. These have been body height shrinkage, biomechanical methods, subjective assessment, and posture assessment. The shrinkage method, including equipment and procedures, has been developed in this project. It assesses the effect of loads on the spine in vivo by using body height changes as a measure of disc creep. The results are well correlated with spinal loads. The method is sensitive enough to differentiate between spinal loads of 100 N difference. The results are also related to the perception of discomfort. Biomechanical methods have been developed for calculating compressive, shear, and momental loads on the spine. Ratings of discomfort, body mapping, interviews, video recordings, and prototype equipment for the recording of head posture have also been used. The methods have been shown to be appropriate for seat evaluation. Work seats have been evaluated in different tasks, incorporating back-rests of different height, width and shape, conventional seat pans and sit-stand seats. It has been shown that advantageous chair features could be referred to each particular task. The tasks evaluated included forward force exertion (high backrests advantageous), vision to the side (low backrests advantageous), work with restricted knee-room (seats allowing increased trunk-thigh angle advantageous), grinding (high, narrow backrests advantageous), punch press work (increased seat height advantageous), and fork lift truck driving (medium height backrest advantageous). The work task has been shown to be a major influence on seat design, and must therefore always be thoroughly considered.