NSCA Foundation

ISO standards address workplace design

Tuesday, 11 April, 2017

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The working environment is a particularly powerful determinant of health and has a significant impact on the employee’s mood. In today’s context of economic globalisation, the occupational environment is delivering increasing mental stress, which can lead to job dissatisfaction, reduced work performance, ill health and depression.

Depression and mental health issues affect more than 300 million people around the world and place a large economic burden on society.

To help businesses and experts design workplaces that encourage employee satisfaction and wellbeing, ISO has developed several International Standards addressing the issues of ergonomics in the design of work systems.

For example, ISO 6385, ‘Ergonomic principles in the design of work systems’, provides core ergonomic principles to improve, (re)design and modify working situations to make the workplace safer, more comfortable and more productive. It covers a wide variety of occupations such as machine operators, assembly line workers, car/lorry drivers, airport personnel, healthcare professionals, teaching staff as well as office workers and mobile workers on laptops.

In addition, ISO 10075, ‘Ergonomic principles related to mental workload’, provides system design guidelines specifically intended to prevent mental overload. Mental stress can result from many different and interacting factors including the requirements of the task, the physical conditions of the job, social and organisational factors or societal factors. The idea behind the ISO 10075 series of standards is to help design systems that prevent mental strain.

Another standard, ISO 27500, describes the values and beliefs that make an organisation human-centred and the significant business benefits that can be achieved, and explains the risks for the organisation of not being human-centred. It provides recommendations for the policies that executive board members need to implement to achieve this. It also sets out high-level human-centred principles for executive board members to endorse in order to optimise performance, minimise risks to organisations and individuals, maximise wellbeing in their organisation and enhance their relationships with the customers.

These standards are destined to help designers apply the latest knowledge in work systems and work equipment in a human-centred way, for a more productive workplace.

Implementing a strong occupational health and safety management system is also another way organisations reduce accidents and ill health. ISO is also developing an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system standard, ISO 45001, which is intended to enable organisations to manage their OH&S risks and improve their OH&S performance. The implementation of an OH&S management system is a strategic decision for an organisation that can be used to support its sustainability initiatives, ensuring people are safer and healthier and increase profitability at the same time.

The standards are available from your national ISO member.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/kieferpix

NSCA Foundation is a member based, non-profit organisation working together with members to improve workplace health and safety throughout Australia. For more information and membership details click here
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