Introduction to and objective of this guide

Designers, production planners, testers and designers of the technical environment and members of standards committees often face questions such as this: "How can I design my product to be used comfortably and safely?"

In order for products with interfaces between human beings and the technical environment to be designed optimally and so as to be ergonomically comfortable and safe, design of the environment must take full account of the biological and physiological needs of the human body. Values for dimensions of the human body (anthropometric data) are an essential aspect of such design.

Human beings interact with products and technical environments in every area of the modern world. It is rare however for these products and environments to be adapted to the individual user. Consequently, anthropometric data and the dimensions derived from them are applied in practice in a wide range of areas, such as the design of production facilities and other working premises, public spaces (such as the interiors of vehicles, furnishings in schools), workstations on machinery, everyday and protective clothing, footwear, technical medical devices, and in many other areas. At the same time, these dimensions also serve as a basis for the development of computer-aided simulation systems (CAD systems, "computer manikins").

If design work is conducted without reference to anthropometric data or is based on the wrong data, the result can easily be that short people are able to reach an actuator without problems whereas tall people have to bend down considerably.

In order for the technical environment to be designed with consideration for safety and comfort, this guide is intended to provide designers, production planners, testers, designers of technical environments and products, and members of standards committees with essential guidance on selecting and applying data concerning the dimensions of the human body, and on avoiding foreseeable incorrect application of these data.

Key questions arising during the application of anthropometric data

  • Where can I obtain anthropometric data?
  • How do I interpret anthropometric data?
  • How do I apply anthropometric data in practice?