IAC Industries - Buying a Workstation: What Height Adjustment Option to Choose?

Our thanks to IAC Industries for allowing us to reprint the following article.
By Joy M. Ebben, Ph.D, CPE, Human Factors and Ergonomic Specialist, IAC Industries, Brea, Calif.

When the time comes to choose a workstation, an important characteristic to watch for is how much flexibility you need in making height adjustments. Incorrect working height is often responsible for the musculoskeletal risk factors-extreme postures and motions. It's important to remember that the key term here is working height-almost always different from the work surface height because the height of the task depends on both task performance and the object of the task.


    The height of the work surface is relative to the height of the object being worked on and the task being performed.

If the person is soldering on top of a subassembly that is six inches high, the working height is the worksurface height plus 6 inches plus any additional height required for the use of the soldering tool. Thus the height of the work surface is relative to the height of the object being work on and the task being performed.


The type and range of height adjustments have a significant impact on the cost of the workstation. This is why it's so important to be sure of your true requirements so you spend your workstation dollars wisely. There are several different recommendations for appropriate working height-all of them defined relative to the user's elbow height. Typical worksurface height recommendations are:


  • Six inches above elbow height for "fine detail" work such as proofing documents or inspecting small parts.
  • Four inches above elbow height for precision work such as mechanical assembly.
  • Same height as elbow for writing or light assembly.
  • Four inches below elbow height for work requiring physical exertion, such as packaging. Adjusting To Elbow Height Some of the ways to manipulate the relative height of the workpiece in relation to the workstation user's elbow are to:


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