From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

New Guideline on Ergonomics of Machinery Design Released

The European Trade Union Technical Bureau for Health and Safety (TUTB) has released a new document titled, “Risk estimation for musculoskeletal disorders in machinery design-integrating user perspective”.

This guidance identifies and estimates musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risk factors when designing machinery, and incorporates the end-user perspective into the design process. It is aimed at machinery designers and occupational health and safety experts.

According to the 3rd European Survey of Working Conditions (2000), work intensity in Europe has risen sharply. The survey found that 56% of workers worked at very high speeds (compared to 54% five years ago) and that 60% worked to tight deadlines (56% five years ago). Of the tasks in Europe’s workplaces, 15% have highly repetitive work cycles of less than five seconds.

The survey also noted that back pain is the most common work-related health problem (33% of workers), followed by stress (28%), and muscle pain (23% – with 13% of workers complaining of upper limb pain and 12% lower limb). The percentage of workers who have tiring positions or carry heavy loads for more than a quarter of their time has risen over the last five years by an average 3% (47% and 37% respectively).

The machinery design guidance document contains background information on MSD definitions and recent statistics in Europe; different types of user data relevant to machinery design, and techniques for gathering it; and it also provides advice to designers on screening and estimating MSD risks.

The guideline includes several checklists, a questionnaire and a flowchart illustrating the design phases for MSD risk assessment and the corresponding data, collection procedures and techniques.

Copies of the guidance can be obtained from:
European Trade Union Technical Bureau for Health and Safety (TUTB)
Bd du Roi Albert II, 5 bte 5, B- 1210 Brussels
tel: +32 (0)2 224 05 60
ISBN 2 930003 41 3

The European Trade Union Technical Bureau for Health and Safety (TUTB) was established in 1989 by the European Trade Union Confederation in order to monitor the drafting, transposition and application of this legislation. The TUTB provides expertise to European institutions dealing with areas related to the working environment, notably:

  • the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work;
  • the Economic and Social Committee;
  • the European Commission’s working groups on the classification of dangerous substances;
  • the Committee set up under the Machinery Directive.

In addition, the TUTB represents the ETUC in various institutions dealing with technical standardisation. It became an associated member of the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) in 1993.