Health & Education

Ergonomics at Schools

School Furniture

One of the most important and influential healthy issues in the school is the observance of ergonomic and musculoskeletal issues. Although musculoskeletal pain is believed to be caused by multiple factors, either by children bags or the architecture of the school and its elements such as desks, chairs, lighting are an important factor. When posture is affected by an awkward body position while sitting or when lifting a heavy school bag, the musculoskeletal system is compromised and will considerably affect students and their efficiency.

Desk

Analysis Recommendations
Area of the desk surface is small for the wide range of activities Working surface of a desk should be approximately 60cm by 120cm
Height of the desk is short for the average student’s height  Ideal desk height is at the level of the diaphragm when a child is seated
Area of the foot space is small to allow free movement for students Require at least 45cm by 50cm space under the desk to for comfortable movement of feet
Height from the seat to the desk surface is high for the average child  Distance from the student desk top to the chair seat should correspond to 20-30cm
Distance between the desk and seat is far for reach  Desk top surface should have an adjustable slope to facilitate angle configuration for different activities 
Surface of the desk is flat, straight and parallel to the floor  Distance from the eye to a book on the desk should be approximately 30cm

Storage space under the desk serves as a temporary daily storage


Chair

Analysis Recommendations
Feet touch the ground but the knees are bent more than 90 degrees Seat height must not be high that legs are dangling as this would put pressure on the soft tissues under the thighs
Seat provides clearance at the back of the knees but the area of the seat is generally too small Seat depth should allow clearance at the back of the knees to prevent pressure on the network of blood vessels and nerves 
Backrest is a straight flat surface at 90 degrees and is not wide enough to provide postural support  Depth of the seat should not exceed 430mm so that the backrest is effective for smaller users
Seat surface is flat and does not conform to the shape of the buttocks for comfort  Material for the seat cover should not be slippery and allow for air circulation
Smooth, wooden material of the chair creates a slippery surface Chair must be suitable for the student’s anthropometric data as well as their varying work postures


School Bags

The common problem experienced by students of elementary school is heavy school bags because of the demanding syllabus.

The effects of carrying heavy school-bags:

  • Contribute to lower back pain
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms
  • Serious back injuries years later
  • Poor posture and severe discomfort
Analysis Recommendations
Oversized for their petite frames Should not weigh more than 15% of the child’s own body weight
Two straps to assist with weight distribution Appropriate for the age and size of the carrier
Comprise of two compartments Heavier objects should be placed closer to the back
The back area is not padded for support   Wear both shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight (compartmentalize)
Moderate padding of the bag straps to cushion the shoulders Good padding on the areas that rest against the back
Adjustable bag straps to effectively position the bag  Wide, padded straps and a waist belt to take pressure off the neck and back
Positioned on the buttocks area Adjust shoulder straps so the bag fits snugly! 
It should hang just below the shoulder and rest of the hips

Computers

Workstation layout is of utmost importance since improper placement of the computer monitor and keyboard coupled with ill-fitting accessories can result in the following:

  • Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) – eyestrain, blurred vision etc.
  •  Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI’s) – wrists, necks, hands etc.
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTD’s)
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD’s)
  • Headaches
Analysis Recommendations
Standard adult size accessories (mouse, keyboard) put stress and pressure on the hands and wrists  Mouse – fits small hands Keyboard – child-sized with light pressure keying 
Distance from the eye to the monitor  Monitor should be 2–2 ½ feet from the student’s eyes
It is too short/ long resulting in CVS Take frequent breaks to rest the eyes and hands
Eyes are not level with the text on the screen as the neck is at an angle to view the monitor Chair should provide proper lower back support. Adjustable computer workstations will accommodate children of different sizes.

Elbows are lower than the keyboard

Wrists should be level with the forearms. Upper arms should be close to the body and relaxed. Elbows should be at an angle greater than 90 degrees.
A seat is too high and students’ feet do not touch the floor putting pressure on the thighs Head should be balanced on neck, not craning forward
A chair does not provide appropriate lumbar support resulting in bad posture Knees should be bent at approximately 90-120 degree. Feet should rest on the floor or footrest.

Shelving and Racking

When designing shelving, it must be considered how much students and teachers will have to reach in order to minimize awkward or unhealthy positions. The average height of the shelves for the teachers is approximately 6 ft,  but a bit high for the students.

Shelving should be:

  • Sturdy with adjustable shelves.
  • Wood, wood laminate or steel.
  • Single-faced for perimeter, double-faced for free standing.
  • Divided shelving for elementary schools. Dividers should be 5" high, spaced 7"– 8" apart.
  • The width of shelves should be determined by the size of materials to be stored on shelves.

Lighting in the Classroom

Appropriate lighting is one of the most critical performance attributes of the learning environment. Students should be comfortable.
Poor lighting can cause several problems such as:

  • Insufficient light 
  • Improper contrast.
  • Poorly distributed light.
  • Flicker.
  • A safety hazard
  • Affect the quality of work
  • A health hazard

Glare is another common lighting problem.
It is what happens when a bright light source or reflection interferes with how you are 'seeing' an object. Some examples are:

Light reflected from polished, shiny or glossy surfaces, Monitors/screens, bright light from poorly positioned light fixtures, sunlight etc.


Analysis:

Minimum Lux requirement for a classroom is 500 Lux Four Fluorescent fixtures – four 32W tubes each. Each tube emits 1600 lumens. Now, to calculate the total amount of Lux emitted:

Area of classroom = 6m x 8m = 48 m2
1 Lux = 1 Lumen / m2
Lux emitted from all four fixtures = 25600 / 48
= 533.33 Lux

Recommendations

For Glare Problems:

  • Using several small low-intensity light fixtures rather than one large high-intensity light fixture.
  • Using light fixtures that diffuse or concentrate light well. 
  • Covering bare bulbs with louvres, lenses or other devices to control light.
  • Increasing the brightness of the area around the glare source.
  • Using adjustable local lighting with brightness controls.
  • Keeping general lighting levels at recommended levels.
  • Position the desk so that the light fixtures are NOT in the front or directly overhead. (OSHA 1926.56)


For Insufficient Lighting:

  • Replace bulbs on a regular schedule. 
  • Clean light fixtures regularly. 
  • Add more light fixtures to inappropriate places. 
  • Paint walls and ceilings light colours so light can be reflected.
  • Use more reflected light and local lighting to eliminate shadows.
Product Reviews

EFurnit Kids Desk LED Lamp

EFurnit Kids Desk LED Lamp
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Review by Stewart S.

Excellent googs