Researchers say obesity is overlooked in design of technology, workplaces
The Australian Safety and Compensation Council examined how anthropometric data is being used by designers of workplace equipment and products, and whether this data accurately reflects the contemporary workforce. Anthropometric data are the measurements of the human body form used by designers to represent the human shape and size in designing products, spaces and systems.
The study followed up on a previously released report on the implications of obesity on workplace health and safety and workers' compensation. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that in 2008 more than 7 million Australians over the age of 18 years were overweight or obese -- an increase of 2.8 million over the previous 15 years.
Bill Scales, chairman of the ASCC, said designers were concerned that they were using out-of-date or inaccurate data and needed information that more accurately reflected the growing obesity epidemic and the current body shape of the average worker. Scales said anthropometric dimensions have also changed due to the aging workforce.
"A number of emerging issues, including the extent of overweight and obesity amongst the Australian workforce, may have implications for the designers of workplace equipment and products," he said. "More accurate Australian anthropometric data and tools will help our designers make workplaces safer."
April 27, 2009
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