Ergonomics Standards for 911 Dispatch - Here's What's Missing

Posted by Ken Carson on May 4, 2018 2:59:09 PM


When it comes to sitting at a desk all day,
nothing matters more than comfort and 
functionality. In order to make consumers happy, furniture manufacturers strive to make comfortable products that meet the latest ergonomic standards. This is an obvious goal of any furniture company, but where do these standards come from?

Where Do the Latest Ergonomic Standards Come From?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) holds the standards and publishes them, and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) creates the standards. The latest standard is ANSI-HFES 100-2007.

This standard was published in 2007, so it is starting to get a bit old. As an ergonomics geek, I find it funny that a standard for fitting people with furniture can become dated? People don't change that drastically, and as humans we are pretty much built the same now as we were in 2007. However, technology does change rapidly. Jobs like 911 dispatch often utilize the most modern technological equipment, which helps the industry influence the new standard.

What Is ANSI-HFES Missing?

When it comes to a 24/7 intensive job like dispatching, there is one ergonomic aspect that the ANSI-HFES standard is lacking: leg space. As it stands now, the console manufacturer only has to provide a tiny amount of space for the users legs and this still meets the requirements. Take a look at the current leg space guidelines:

  • The leg space only needs to be 20.5 inches wide. Most seat pans for dispatch chairs are at least 20 inches wide (if not wider).
  • The space only needs to be 17.3 inches deep from the front edge of the surface for your knees.
  • It only needs to be 23.6 inches deep for your feet.  

Why Is More Leg Space Important?

All of the current leg space measurements work if the dispatcher sits perfectly upright, but we all know that is impossible during a shift of eight hours or more. First, if you are even close to six feet tall, you will not be able to stretch out without banging your toes on something. Second, stretching out is a critical part of maintaining your body’s health throughout the day. Third, this designated space will barely accommodate a wheelchair user.

How Can You Make Sure Your 911 Dispatch Consoles Have Adequate Leg Room?

The next time you’re at a tradeshow, try to be proactive about testing out the consoles. Grab a chair, and slide up to each console to see how you fit. Stretch your legs out to see if they bump into anything. Swing side to side and see what you hit. This will help you learn what will work for you and what will not.

Ergonomic standards can be extremely helpful. They can point us in the right direction when we're trying to achieve better health and comfort. That being said, they still need to be used with a dose of common sense. Hopefully the next standard reflects healthier leg room for those of us who work long shifts, but until then, make sure to look out for your own best interests.

Ergonomic Design Criteria for 911 Dispatch

Topics: Ergonomics, Dispatch, Pre-Planning