You are on page 1of 8

Original Article

Ergonomic and
Anthropometric Consideration
for Library Furniture in an
Iranian Public University

This work is licensed


under a Creative
Commons AttributionNonCommercial 3.0
Unported License.

R Osquei-Zadeh, J Ghamari,
M Abedi, H Shiri
Abstract
Background: In our competing educational world, students spend a considerable part of

their daily life, studying at library furniture. Not surprisingly, due to lack of proper anthropometric databases, these products have typically been ill fitted for the intended user populations.

Department of Ergonomics, University of


Social Welfare and
Rehabilitation Sciences,
Tehran, Iran

Objective: To verify the optimum anthropometric match of library furniture within an academic environment, through a combined qualitative and quantitative approach.

Methods: 267 (120 female and 147 male) students, were subjected to 11 standard anthropometric measurements. In line with the measurements, subjective evaluations were also
considered through detailed fitting trials on selected groups of participants.

Results: Combinational equations defined the unacceptable furniture dimensions according

to elbow and sitting popliteal heights, mainly for smaller and taller divisions of the studied population, which were systematically comparable along with subjective and objective
outcomes. In brief, if we classified studied students into small, medium, and tall groups,
the design dimensions should be altered by -5.1, -2.2, and +1.6 cm for chair seat height;
and by -8.3, -5.4, and +1.1 cm for table height, for each student group, respectively.

Conclusion: The furniture size to be used by Iranian students should be changed to fit their
anthropometric measures.

Keywords: Anthropometry; Libraries; Interior design and furnishings; Fitting trial; Iran
Introduction

hile humans do all necessary actions for working, continuing


their daily life, and meeting their
social and cultural needs, they should be
able to use their maximal body capacities in a physically comfortable way. This
is, however, only possible when the tools
and equipment they use are perfectly designed. Otherwise, poor utility and work

conditions arise. This, in turn, leads to


physical and mental stresses occurring
in the people involved in various interactions.1 The physical characteristics of
individuals vary with factors including
age, gender, nutritional status, genetic
structure, etc.2 Therefore, it is necessary
to consider the resulting diversity in the
design process, and adjust the product
dimensions accordingly.3 For that reason,
a number of studies and reference texts

Cite this article as: Osquei-Zadeh R, Ghamari J, Abedi M, Shiri H. Ergonomic and anthropometric consideration
for library furniture in an Iranian public university. The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2012;3:19-26.

www.theijoem.com Vol 3 Number 1; January, 2012

Correspondence to
Reza Osquei-Zadeh,
Department of Ergonomics, University of
Social Welfare and
Rehabilitation Sciences,
Tehran, Iran
Tel/fax: +98-21-22180119
E-mail: R.osqueizadeh@uswr.ac.ir
Received: Sep 18, 2011
Accepted: Dec 6, 2011

19

article
Anthropometrics for Library Furniture

TAKE-HOME MESSAGE
Being confined to awkward postures
for specific task demands, at given
situations or as influenced by poorly
designed products over extended periods, provokes psycho-physiological
stress and imposes negative effects
on human mental and physical performance.
For lack of proper anthropometric databases, school and library furniture,
have typically been ill fitted for the intended user populations.
It is necessary to consider the diverse
capabilities, limitations, and preferences of the end-users, in the design
process, and adjust the product traits
accordingly.
Consulting national and international
standards is also critical in developing products and environments.
Giving end-users the opportunity to
be involved in various stages of design and evaluation would enhance
the surrounding interfaces' usability.

nowadays are focused on the anthropometrical characteristics of user populations.4-7 It is also confirmed that being
confined to awkward postures for specific
task demands, at given situations or as
influenced by poorly designed products
over extended periods, provokes psychophysiological stress and imposes negative effects on human mental and physical performance.8 So, it is not surprising
that designing usable and comfortable
products has been the focal point of various academic and industrial projects over
the last two decades. School and library
furniture are decent examples in support of this matter. In some countries
20

though, there have been attempts to design desks and chairs based on anthropometric data.9-13 In line with them, many
other researchers have tried to establish
theoretical recommendations, and some
have also attempted to define the appropriate dimensions for such products.14-17
Another important milestone in this increasing concern is the publication of
principal standards, determining the dimensions and characteristics of various
products for the intended user populations.18 Not surprisingly, there are a large
number of studies worldwide showing a
clear anthropometric mismatch in the design of such furniture.9-17 This mismatch
might affect the studying process, even
during the most interesting and stimulating interactions and can produce some
musculoskeletal disorders, such as neck
and low-back pain. The existing library
furniture at University of Social Welfare
and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran
had fixed dimensions for all the students
and served as a reference. We hypothesized that this would give uncomfortable
and tiring sitting positions to majority of
students. The main objective of our study
was to perform an anthropometric survey
and, in accordance, to define the optimal
dimensions and characteristics of library
furniture through the application of validated and valuable anthropometric criteria.

Materials and Methods


This study was approved by the University Ethics Committee. The study population consisted of 1512 students in BSc and
MSc levels (680 women and 832 men). A
stratified sampling method was used, and
the population was classified into four
age groups (between 18 and 26 years),
each one of which, contributing with a
specified number of randomly selected
individuals. Gender was then considered

www.theijoem.com Vol 3 Number 1; January, 2012

article
R. Osquei-Zadeh, J. Ghamari, et al

Table 1: Students' anthropometric measures (n=267)


Anthropometric Dimension

Mean (cm) SD (cm) Min (cm)

Max (cm)

5th %ile
(cm)

50th %ile
(cm)

95th %ile
(cm)

Stature (S)

166.9

9.16

147.0

187.0

152.0

166.7

182.8

Sitting Elbow Height (SEH)

23.7

2.6

17.5

30.0

19.0

23.7

29.9

Sitting Shoulder Height (SSH)

59.1

4.9

46.0

69.0

51.0

59.5

66.0

Knee Height (KH)

51.7

3.0

45.0

58.0

46.0

52.0

56.9

Popliteal Height (PH)

46.6

2.7

40.0

52.2

41.4

46.8

51.2

Sitting Height (SH)

87.7

5.3

76.0

100.0

78.1

88.0

95.9

Buttock-Knee Length (BKL)

55.7

4.5

34.0

64.0

50.0

55.5

62.0

Buttock-Popliteal Length (BPL)

45.9

3.2

41.0

54.0

41.0

45.5

52.0

Shoulder Breadth (SB)

43.0

3.7

35.0

51.0

36.0

42.2

49.9

Hip Breadth (HB)

37.3

2.5

31.0

43.0

33.0

37.0

41.9

Thigh Thickness (TT)

14.3

1.7

11.0

18.0

11.0

14.5

17.0

to determine the overall sample composition. ISO/TR 72502 was also consulted
to calculate the sample size,18 as follows:

where, CV represents the coefficient of


variation, and A is the percentage of relative accuracy desired (95% and 5%, respectively in the presented study). In
general, the research question was approached through two methods:
Quantitative Approach
Eleven anthropometric measures of the
participants were made from the right
side of their body, by adopting proper
landmark definitions and standard measuring techniques.7,18 During measurements, the participants were barefooted,

wearing light cloths, and instructed to sit


in such a way that their thighs were in full
contact with the seat, their lower and upper legs were at right angles (knee bent at
90), their feet were placed on the floor,
and the trunk was upright. The anthropometric dimensions, according to Pheasant,7 were the followings:
Stature (S): The vertical distance from
the floor to the top of the head, while
the person stands erect, looking straight
ahead.
Sitting Elbow Height (SEH): The vertical distance from the bottom of the tip
of the elbow (olecranon) to the person's
seated surface, taken with the elbow
flexed at 90.
Sitting Shoulder Height (SSH): The
vertical distance from the top of the
shoulder at the acromion process, to the
person's seated surface.

www.theijoem.com Vol 3 Number 1; January, 2012

21

article
Anthropometrics for Library Furniture

Table 2: Library furniture dimensions


Size
(cm)

Furniture Dimension

Chair

Table

Chair Seat Height (CSH)

46

Chair Seat Depth (CSD)

40

Chair Seat Width (CSW)

45

Chair Backrest Height (CBH)

48

Table Height (TH)

76

Underneath Table Height (UTH)

66

Knee Height (KH): The vertical distance from the foot resting surface to the
top of the kneecap just in back and above
the patella, measured with knee flexed at
90.
Popliteal Height (PH): The vertical
distance from the foot resting surface to
the popliteal angle, where the back of the
lower leg meets the underside of the thigh,
measured with a 90 knee flexion.

Sitting Height (SH): The vertical distance from the seat surface, to the crown
of the head (vertex).
Buttock-Knee Length (BKL): The horizontal distance from the back of the uncompressed buttock to the front of the
kneecap.
Buttock-Popliteal Length (BPL): The
horizontal distance from the back of the
uncompressed buttock to the popliteal
angle.
Shoulder Breadth (SB): The maximum
horizontal breadth across the shoulders,
measured to the protrusions of the deltoid muscles.
Hip Breadth (HB): The maximum horizontal distance across the hips in the sitting position.
Thigh Thickness (TT): The vertical distance from the seat surface to the top of
the uncompressed soft tissue of the thigh
at its thickest point, generally where it
meets the abdomen.
In addition, the following dimensions
were measured on the library furniture:

Table 3: Library furniture dimension combination formulas


Dimension Combination

Formula

Chair Seat Height (CSH) and


Popliteal Height (PH)

(PH + 2) cos 30 CSH (PH + 2) cos 5

Chair Seat Depth (CSD) and


Buttock-Popliteal Length (BPL)

0.80 BPL CSD 0.99 BPL

Chair Seat Width (CSW) and


Hip Breadth (HB)

1.1 HB CSW 1.3 HB

Chair Backrest Height (CBH) and


Shoulder Height (SH)

0.60 SH CBH 0.80 SH

Table Height (TH) and


Elbow-Rest Height (ERH)

(PH + 2) cos 30 + ERH TH (PH + 2) cos 30 + 0.85 ERH + 0.14 SH

Underneath Table Height (UTH)

(KH + 2) + 2 UTH (PH + 2) cos 5 + 0.85 EH + 0.14 SH - 4

22

www.theijoem.com Vol 3 Number 1; January, 2012

article
R. Osquei-Zadeh, J. Ghamari, et al

Table 4: Mismatches between students' anthropometry and library furniture dimensions


Mismatch (%)
Comparison

1st to 30th %ile


(n=82)

31st to 70th %ile


(n=115)

71st to 100th %ile


(n=70)

Chair Seat Height (CSH)

72

38

62

Chair Seat Depth (CSD)

45

15

30

Chair Seat Width (CSW)

28

17

Chair Backrest Height (CBH)

27

11

22

Table Height (TH)

66

58

39

Underneath Table Height (UTH)

64

43

41

Chair Seat Height (CSH): The vertical distance from the floor to the highest
point on the front of the seat.
Chair Seat Depth (CSD): The horizontal distance from the back of the sitting
surface of the seat to its front.
Chair Seat Width (CSW): The horizontal distance from the outer left side of
the sitting surface of the seat to the outer
right side.
Chair Backrest Height (CBH): The vertical distance from the top side of the seat
surface to the highest point of the backrest.
Table Height (TH): The vertical distance from the floor to the top of the front
edge of the table.
Underneath Table Height (UTH): The
vertical distance from the floor to the bottom of the front edge of the table.
The equipment used for this purpose
included synthetic length measuring tape
with an accuracy of 1 mm, Lafayette sliding caliper (range 060 cm with an error
of 0.5 mm), and Martin anthropometer
with a precision of 1 mm. The accuracy
and repeatability of measurements were
ensured through proper training of the

measurers during a pilot study, and also


regular calibration of the instruments all
the way through data collection process.
To identify any mismatches, anthropometric dimensions of the participants
were compared to the relative library
furniture dimensions. According to Gouvali,15 mismatch is determined if the calculated value of the critical dimensions is
outside the interval quantity (i.e., lower
or shorter than the minimum, or higher
or taller than the maximum values).
Qualitative Approach
To obtain complementary design solutions for the library furniture, the question was also approached through a qualitative methodology. For this purpose, a
sample of 15 participants (3rd to 7th, 28th
to 52nd, and 93rd to 97th percentiles of
stature) were asked to use an adjustable
mock-up of a library chair and desk within a fitting trial. They were asked to see
if a particular dimension (e.g., chair seat
height) would be high, low, acceptable, or just right. During the fitting
trial, each participant could simulate performing the studying task, to make their

www.theijoem.com Vol 3 Number 1; January, 2012

23

article
Anthropometrics for Library Furniture

Table 5: Chair seat height preference ranges for selected stature percentiles. The cerise boxes show each participant's range of comfort, based on chair seat height alterations.

Seat
Height
Adjustment rd
3
(cm)

3rd to 7th %iles


4th

5th

6th

48th to 52nd %iles


7th

48th

49th

50th

51st

93rd to 97th %iles


52nd

93rd

94th

95th

96th

97th

+5
+2.5
0.0
-2.5
-5
-7.5
-10
-12.5

judgments more realistic. The sequence of


chair heights was presented twice, once in
ascending and again in descending order,
being alternated between participants
to minimize systematic bias.7 Each trial
would take approximately 15 minutes to
be completed (two sets of 7-minute slots
for ascending and descending sections).
The ascending sequence began with a
very low seat height. The height was then
increased in steps until a point where the
chair seat was certainly too high. In the
descending sequence, this procedure was
repeated until the seat height became
too low. The upper and lower thresholds
of acceptability were then calculated for
each participant by averaging the threshold values measured in the ascending and
descending trials.

Results
The results are presented for the whole
sample (n=267) on anthropometric measurements, and records from fitting trials
24

(n=15). Data categories were initially analyzed to determine whether each dimension was normally distributed. All but SB
appeared to follow the normal distribution. The anthropometric data and the
critical dimensions of current furniture
in the library are presented in Tables 1
and 2. Based on the above-mentioned results, and using the equations in Table 3,
mismatches between library furniture dimensions and students' anthropometric
characteristics were mathematically calculated;1,10 the results are summarized in
Table 4. Referring to visual binning feature in SPSS, for lower stature percentiles
(1st to 30th percentiles), the majority of the
students were found to be using chairs
with high seat and extra-high tables, having inappropriate space underneath the
table. In contrast, taller students (71st to
100th percentiles) adopted slopping postures, due to considerably low chair seats
and table tops. As it was indicated earlier,
a fitting trial was also organized to improve the outcome quality, whose results

www.theijoem.com Vol 3 Number 1; January, 2012

article
R. Osquei-Zadeh, J. Ghamari, et al

were notably in line with the above-mentioned findings of the study. It can be seen
that smaller and taller students had preferences not being covered by the current
library furniture dimensions (Table 5).

Discussion
We tried to identify the optimum anthropometric harmony for library furniture in
an academic environment. With certain
dimensions, direct comparisons could be
made to the elements (e.g., popliteal and
knee heights, respectively). However, to
accurately refine the questions, the raw
data were processed into approved formulas (Table 3), before drawing the final
conclusions. In agreement with Table
1, significant variations in body dimensions were to be considered for the whole
sample. On the other hand, anthropometric discrepancies for table and chair seat
heights were clearly predictable regarding smaller and taller students (Table
4). Similarly, fitting trials confirmed the
fact that with the few possible exceptions, there was not an overlap in terms
of comfortable chair seat height range, for
many students (Table 5). In other words,
taller students preferred chairs with
much higher seats compared to smaller
individuals (nearly 10 cm difference in
some cases). Overall, findings showed
that the library table-chair combinations
were anthropometrically inappropriate
for the majority of the students. Based on
results of this research, we found that if
the studied population be classified into
short, medium, and tall groups, the
design dimensions should be changed by
-5.1, -2.2, and +1.6 cm for chair seat height
(CSH); and by -8.3, -5.4, and +1.1 cm for
table height (TH), for each student group,
respectively. In addition, giving the students, as the main end-users of the library
furniture, the opportunity to be involved
in various stages of this furniture design

and purchasing process, would undoubtedly result in more satisfactory outcomes.

Acknowledgements
The authors would like to appreciate all
who supported this study in numerous
ways. We also thank the Head of Research
and Technology Deputy for the kind permission to conduct this study, and all who
participated in the measurements. This
work was funded by the Deputy of Research and Technology, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Conflicts of Interest: None declared.


References
1. Pheasant S. Anthropometry and the Design of
Workspaces: in Wilson J, CorlettN. Evaluation of
Human Work. 3rd ed. London, Taylor & Francis,
2006: 715-28.
2. Marieb EN. Essentials of Human Anatomy &
Physiology Laboratory Manual. 4th ed. California,
Benjamin Cummings, 2008.
3. Moggridge B. Designing Interactions. Cambridge,
MIT Press, 2007.
4. Aziz S, Puri D, Hossain KZ, et al. Anthropometric
indices of middle socio-economic class school children in Karachi compared with NCHS standards: a
pilot study. J Pak Med Assoc 2006;56:264-7.
5. Kagawa M, Binns CW, Hills AP. Body composition
and anthropometry in Japanese and Australian
Caucasian males and Japanese females. Asian Pac
J Clin Nutr 2007;16:31-6.
6. Ariadurai SA, Nilusha TBG, Dissanayake M. An anthropometric study on Sri Lankan school children
for developing clothing sizes. J Soc Sci 2009;19:516.
7. Pheasant S, Haslegrave CM. Body Space: Anthropometry, Ergonomics and the Design of Work. 3rd
ed. London, Taylor & Francis, 2006.
8. Karwowski W, Marras W. Occupational Ergonomics: Principles of Work Design. Florida, CRC Press,
2003.
9. Ismalia SO, Akanbi OG. Anthropometric survey
and appraisal of furniture for Nigerian primary

www.theijoem.com Vol 3 Number 1; January, 2012

25

article
Anthropometrics for Library Furniture

school pupils. eJournal Sci Tech 2010;5:29-36.

furniture design. Afr J Biotech 2008;7:1081-6.

10. Ghazilla RA, Taha Z. Pilot investigation on the


mismatches of school furniture and student body
dimensions in Malaysian secondary schools. J Soc
Sci 2010;6:287-92.
11. Rahman SA, Shaheen AM. Anthropometric consideration for designing classroom furniture in Arabic
primary and preparatory schools. J Phys Ther
2008;13:343-57.
12. Khaspouri GC, Sau SK. Anthropometric consideration for designing classroom furniture in rural
schools. J Human Ecology 2007;22:235-44.
13. Musa AI. Anthropometric evaluations and assessment of school furniture design in Nigeria. Int J
Indust Eng Comput 2011;12:175-85.
14. Tunay M, Melemez K. An analysis of biomechanical and anthropometric parameters on classroom

15. Gouvali MK, Boudolos K. Match Between school


furniture dimensions and children's anthropometry. Applied Ergonomics 2006;37:765-73.
16. Abdel Rahman SA, Shaheen AM. Anthropometric
consideration for designing classroom furniture in
Arabic primary and preparatory boys schools. Bull
Faculty Phys Ther Cairo Univ 2008;13:343-57.
17. Farahani A, Shakib M. A survey on some skeletal
disorders and proportionality of anthropometric
features to school furniture dimensions in primary
students. World J Sport Sci 2009;2:266-71.
18. ISO/TR 72502. Basic human body measurements
for technological design: Part 2: statistical summaries of body measurements from individual ISO
populations, 2010.

Visit Us on the Web

www.theijoem.com
www.theijoem.org
26

www.theijoem.com Vol 3 Number 1; January, 2012