Kitchen Ergonomics

Ergonomic aspects
The kitchen is, without a doubt, the most important work area in the household, and kitchen users spend a lot of time here. Knowing this, kitchen planning should be carefully thought out and aspects such as ergonomics and optimized work flows (distance, time) should always be taken into account.
Bending & kneeling in the kitchen

Ergonomic factors in the kitchen regarding stress on the body play an important role. Daily activity in the kitchen is more comparable to a workout in the gym rather than a pleasant stroll in the park. That’s because it involves long distances intertwined with lots of stopping, bending, stretching and acceleration. And the main cook of a typical four-person household does this, on average, two hours per day!

The OWAS method

In order to demonstrate the ergonomic stress on the body during kitchen activities, the OWAS method has been employed as a tool. The colored ergonomics model symbolizes different ergonomic stress classes using color coding. Red: very severe stress on the body Orange: severe stress Yellow: light stress Blue: no stress on the body

Bottom line

The red and orange ergonomics model demonstrates the stresses involved in retrieving items from a base cabinet with doors and shelves in a kneeling and bent position. The yellow ergonomics model, which is accessing a full extension, shows significantly better posture. The maximum stress level is still only yellow even when removing items from the bottom drawer. This activity has none of the awkwardness and strain associated with accessing items from static shelves. By planning drawers and roll-outs instead of shelves, you can do away with damaging bending and kneeling. You can easily remove storage items using a natural lifting movement.

Design Tips
  • Look at how differing height different tasks and multiple users
  • In a kitchen the most important area of storage space is between hip height and shoulder height
  • A working height 50-100mm below the flexed elbows is generally recommended
  • Note the distinction between working height and work surface height
  • The most important principles to consider in kitchen space planning are the frequency of use and sequence of use principles
  • The ergonomic kitchen should also take into account both the present and future physical needs and abilities of the client
  • Consider the changing needs of the client over time by incorporating universal design features that take into account the majority of people regardless of age and ability
  • Safety concerns also need to be addressed at the planning stage, particularly if the home currently contains children or pets, or these are planned for the future
  • The kitchen’s design and layout should encourage economy of movement, convenience of location and smooth traffic flow
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