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Ergonomics Standards

Ergonomics Standards

We can help you understand, interpret and apply ergonomic standards to improve your business because we helped to write them.

Why use international ergonomic standards? 

In many parts of the world, compliance with relevant standards is a mandatory requirement in major contracts, but even when it is not, we believe standards are a good idea because they:

  • provide definitive, authoritative widely agreed statements of good practice
  • require organisations to consider and meet the needs of their people 
  • help organisations meet their legal requirements under disability and health and safety legislation
  • promote consistency by providing a consistent reference across design teams or across time.

The international standard ISO 9241 “The Ergonomics of Human-system Interaction” developed by ISO TC 159 SC4 is one of the most influential standards in ergonomics across the world.  It supports a wide variety of HCI (human-computer interaction) activities including:

  • Analysing and defining system requirements 
  • Designing user-system dialogues and interface navigation 
  • Designing or selecting displays 
  • Designing or selecting keyboards and other input devices 
  • Designing physical workplaces for users 
  • Supporting and training users
  • Designing jobs and tasks

Who writes the ergonomic standards?

International ergonomics standards are the responsibility of the International Organisation for Standardisation Technical Committee 159 (ISO TC159).  There are four sub-committees (SC), each responsible for its own area of standardisation:

  • SC1 Ergonomics guiding principles
  • SC3 Anthropometry and biomechanics
  • SC4 Ergonomics of human-system interaction
  • SC5 Ergonomics of the physical environment

In addition there is an Advisory Group on Accessible Design (AGAD) and a working group which reports directly to the TC dealing with standardisation for people with special needs

Our expertise 

Our Founder, Tom Stewart has been Chairman of ISO/TC159/SC4 since 1983 and represents SC4 and the UK at the annual plenary meeting of TC159.  He also represents the UK at the annual plenary meetings of the European Ergonomics Standards Committee CEN TC122.  As a result of this active involvement in standards making, System Concepts not only knows and understands published ergonomics standards but also knows what standards are under development and what they will mean for our clients.

Need to find out more? 

Tom has written a series of articles to give you a comprehensive overview of the standards and how to get the best from them.  As well as covering ergonomics, ISO 9241 has sections which cover user centred design, usability and accessibility.  You can find more information about these sections of the standards on our usability standards page.

 These two articles give you the basic information you need to find your way around the standards:

The structure of ISO 9241 "Ergonomics of human-system interaction"

An overview of ISO 9241 introducing the way the standard is structured and the general areas it covers.

How to use usability and ergonomics standards (and how to buy them)

A more detailed look at the individual parts of the standard, who should be using them and what they cover, including links to allow you to buy your own copies of the standards you need.

Still need help? 

If you feel you need more expert help on interpreting and applying standards to your business, please contact us.

By Tom Stewart


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