Consumer packaging : the development of normative data for able-bodied and disabled people
The aim was to formulate ergonomics criteria to assist in the design and evaluation of various commonly used packages so that they are well adapted to the needs, capabilities and limitations of consumers. The consumers used in the study included male and female able-bodied subjects, some of whom were elderly; and the disabled, who suffered from arthritis, Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or one-handed function (hemiplegics or amputees). The design criteria took the form of normative data. These were derived, by experiment, with subjects handling specially designed apparatus which closely simulated the characteristics of real packages. The norms were the torques and forces that the weak, average and strong subjects could exert on a range of packages. The norms were related to the breaking torques and breaking forces of packages found in the market place. It was shown that many of these packages require opening torques and forces which are well beyond the capabilities of the weaker sections of the sample. New methods for representing the torques which people can exert were derived, involving the calculation of ratios of centiles between and within groups for comfortable and maximum exertions of torque. It is suggested that this method, which has considerable promise, be further validated in future studies involving not only the description of forces and torques, but also that of the reaches, carrying and lifting capacity, the articulation, pushing and pulling capacity, and physical endurance of human subjects. The promise lies in the short-hand derivation of the capabilities of weaker segments of the population, who are difficult to obtain in large numbers, from studies involving small samples from the fit and able population.