Investigation of ergonometric parameters of university lecture hall furniture

U.L. Palamakumbura and H.S. Amarasekara

Sitting comfort is considered important particularly in working environments with regards to health  and performances of day to day work. Sitting on a comfortable seat helps to relax the body and reduce energy consumption but on the other hand prolong sitting slackens abdominal muscles and may cause backache. Application of ergonomic approach to furniture designing helps to increase the comfort of furniture.

There has been an inherent in Sri Lanka on ergonomics of furniture designing (Abeysekara, 1982 and Silva 2006). No considerable attention has been given on ergonomics of universities or school furniture. It is important to concentrate on furniture in lecture halls and class rooms because children are spending a long period of their lives in schools and university working environments. The present study aimed at investigating of ergonomic parameters of lecture hall furniture of USJP (University of Sri Jayewardenepura). Though, the investigation has been done for Faculty of Applied science (FAS), the results can be applied to the whole university. The FAS of USJP has eighteen lecture halls and these eighteen lecture halls consist of four major types of furniture designs. A distinct variability was observed in the all ergonomic parameters of furniture in eighteen lecture hall. Most variability was observed in height of the back rest.

Furniture in each lecture hall of FAS was compared with the developed ergonomic standard values. Many mismatches were observed between standard ergonomic parameters based on anthropometric data with the ergonomic parameters of present lecture hall furniture in FAS. This may cause many health problems like back pain, neck pain and fatigue of university students. Seat height of the university lecture hall furniture of FAS does not match with the popliteal height of the students.

Furthermore, the user survey shows several problems regarding comfort of university lecture hall furniture. Students do not like fiber glass chairs with desktop arm rest at the right side and the ergonomic parameters (seat height, seat width) do not comply with the student’s body dimensions. None of the seating units in FAS fulfilled all the ergonomic parameters.

Positive remarks were given by the students for lecture hall P1 and M1. Based on anthropometric data of university students in FAS ergonomic parameters were proposed. Recommended ergonomic parameters are 42.5-43.5cm for seat height, 45-46cm for seat depth to back support, 16-17cm for height lowest point back support, 37-38cm for height highest point back support, 37-38cm for seat width, 54-55cm for vertical span below the table and 63-64cm for horizontal clearance below the table.

U.L. Palamakumbura and H.S. Amarasekara

Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka.

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