From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Foot pedals

Dan MacLeod, CPE, MA, MPH


SewingMachine PottersWheel
Old sewing machine Manipulator using potter’s wheel

Foot pedals were common in the past as a source of power in various tools and equipment. Sewing machines are a good example. Occasionally today they can be used as a low cost way to manipulate items, freeing up the hands to perform more productive work. The example above right shows aworkstation created from a potter’s wheel to manipulate parts in making mainframe computers (click for full description).


Foot pedal video
Foot pedal (video clip)

This short video clip shows an excellent example a foot pedal in a modern plant. The operator is able to manipulate the part quickly and accurately with only minimal foot movement. Developing a powered device that works this well would be prohibitively expensive. Using the hands would require putting down a tool, turning the fixture, then picking up the tool again, i.e., repetitive motions that slow down production.

Foot pedal bench Foot pedal standing
Bench foot pedal Standing footpedal

The above photos show two more samples of simple foot pedals. Note that standing while using a foot pedal can create instability plus increase strain on the other leg. Thus, standing footpedals should be used sparingly and with caution. (The same caution should be observed when using powered foot controls.)