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ISO Compiles “People Measurements” From Around the World

Ergonomics for the motley human race

Published: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - 13:58

(ISO: Geneva) -- With changing standards of living, the body dimensions of people have been increasing in many countries over the last few decades. To ensure that clothing, workplaces, transportation, homes, and recreational activities match today’s body sizes comfortably and safely, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published a report compiling up-to-date anthropometric data (measurement of the human body to determine differences across populations).

The report, ISO/TR 7250-2:2010—“Basic human body measurements for technological design—Part 2: Statistical summaries of body measurements from individual ISO populations,” is the second part of a series on body measurements. Part 1, ISO/TR 7250-1, published in 2008, covers body measurement definitions and landmarks, regarding population groups and the geometric design of the places where people work and live.

ISO/TR 7250-2 seeks to identify physical variations in human body sizes and shapes around the world so that manufacturers can have a realistic view of today’s population diversity and optimize technological design accordingly.

For instance, the report tells us that while the average height and weight of an American man are respectively 1.76 m and 80 kg, those of the average Thai man are 1.67 m and 64 kg. And that an average Dutch woman measures 1.67 m and weighs 72 kg, while an average Japanese woman measures 1.57 m and weighs 51 kg.

“Inadequate measures in products and environments compromise our health by putting unnecessary strain on our bodies,” explains Makiko Kouchi, project leader of ISO/TR 7250. “Can you imagine what it would be like to have to sit in a chair that is too tight, or to find it difficult to reach the products in a supermarket? Harmonizing our surroundings to our body size, shape, and capability by applying ergonomic principles is key to ensuring our well-being.”

ISO/TR 7250-2 provides updated country-specific body size data. The report focuses on working-age people within “ISO populations” (countries whose national standards institute is a member of ISO). It features key statistics for ergonomic design such as body mass, stature, eye height, chest depth, hip breadth, etc., in both standing and sitting positions. The measurements used as a basis are described in detail in the first part of the series, ISO/TR 7250-1:2008.

ISO/TR 7250-2 aims to become a reference for the various ISO product standards, so that their ergonomic accuracy can be further improved. The report is intended as a repository of the most current anthropometric data by country, which will be updated as new statistics become available. It currently includes: Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Thailand, and the United States.

“We developed ISO/TR 7250-2 with the principle of ‘equity’ in mind,” says Kouchi. “More often than not, products are designed in a mass production basis, which ignores human variation. The report will help manufacturers to better gear their products to their target customers, taking into account the considerable differences in body shapes and sizes that can exist. This will ensure that products respect the ergonomic needs of their populations, and that no size is ‘discriminated’ no matter how big or small.”

See the list of diverse ergonomic standards under development at ISO—from the widely scoped “ease of operation of everyday products” to the specific “simulated lane change test to assess in-vehicle secondary task demand.” The ISO wants to hear from you regarding these standards or areas such as repetitive work tasks, work posture, the manual handling of people in the health care sector, etc. Download the free publication “Your voice matters - Why consumers need to participate in standards- making... and how to get involved.”


About The Author

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The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards. ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 162 countries, one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. ISO is a nongovernmental organization that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. ISO enables a consensus to be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society. View the ISO Standards list.