Bodyspace: Anthropometry, Ergonomics, and the Design of Work

Bodyspace: Anthropometry, Ergonomics, and the Design of Work

Bodyspace: Anthropometry, Ergonomics, and the Design of Work

Bodyspace: Anthropometry, Ergonomics, and the Design of Work


Bodyspace has been acclaimed since its original incarnation, and has been completely revised and updated for this second edition. It is a recommended primary text on teaching courses the world over. We can tall think of examples of tools we find difficult to use, places we cannot reach, seats designed for someone else, products not fit for their purpose. In Bodyspace, the author argues that this is because designers commonly fail to understand the needs of users of their products, and explains that the solution is for designers to design ergonomically. Profusely illustrated and employing tables of human dimensions (anthropometric data) Bodyspace provides the means to execute successful ergonomic design of benefit to all-manufacturer, designer, and user alike.

This edition has been revised to bring fresh insights into the principles and practice of anthropometrics, workspace design, sitting and seating, hands and handles, ergonomics in the office, ergonomics in the home, and health and safety work. The tables of anthropometric data presented within focus on human diversity, ethnic differences, growth and development, secular trends, social class and occupation, and ageing.


It is now 10 years since the first edition of Bodyspace appeared. Over this period of time it has become clear that the science of ergonomics and its application to modern work practices and industrial design have never been needed more. The horrific nature of disasters such as Chernobyl, Bhopal, the Piper Alpha explosion, the Kegworth Air crash and the King's Cross fire have all carried with them important lessons for ergonomists and other designers. The need for an understanding of human behaviour, capacities and needs prior to the implementation of a complex system has been identified over and over again. Tragically, the professionals with the required knowledge and skills are too frequently consulted only after the event. I am sure that many of my colleagues would agree that the call to action rarely comes during the design process but rather as a desperate plea following an acute or chronic system failure.

If the major acute complex system failure is the focus of public and media attention then the chronic system failure is the silent enemy. In the UK, a six-fold increase in sickness days lost to back pain since 1974, 1 million workers reporting musculoskeletal problems associated with their work in a single year, and the burgeoning problems of stress-related disorders reflect a society which is neither adapting, managing or designing in sympathy with the needs of the workforce. The cost of this failure is rarely evaluated. The burden of care falls on the tax payer and has been estimated at up to £16 billion.

Organisations-perhaps with some justification-often feel that they are overregulated and subject to onerous restraints in a highly competitive world. The added 'burden' of health and safety is frequently cited as a limiting factor in the trading success of businesses. I know of no studies which have proven this case and conversely know of many hugely successful organisations who have shown that quality is a broad concept, encompassing issues of product design and production, workforce well-being and environmental impact, amongst others.

It is of concern that the business case for user-focused design is so rarely developed. It is perhaps too obvious that a well-designed tool will perform better in the hands of a skilled operator than a poorly designed one. A failure to document this adequately and regularly leads, too frequently, to good design being replaced by

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