working reach envelope

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Definition - What does working reach envelope mean?

The working reach envelope, with regards to ergonomics, is that area in which a human can comfortably reach an object. The working reach envelope includes only that space that a worker can reach while maintaining minimal deviation from a neutral arm position. This space is considered when planning the ergonomics of a workspace in order to help reduce work related musculoskeletal disorders.

SureHire explains working reach envelope

Initially used in robotics design, the concept of a working reach envelope was subsequently adopted as a tool to reduce injury in human-centric workspace design and ergonomics. The working reach zone is the three dimensional area in which a worker's physical activities are conducted. Centered upon the worker's fixed location, either sitting or standing, this envelope is limited to the maximum distance the individual can reach without assuming an awkward posture. The normal reach zone is slightly smaller, and consists of the area that can be reached when the worker's elbow is bent.

When initially creating an ergonomically designed workspace, the working reach envelope should be based on the 5th percentile (the 5% of workers with the smallest reach) so that 95% of workers can reach items in the workspace. The area encompassed by a specific working reach envelope is dependent on the task, the physical layout of the workzone, and the characteristics of the worker. For instance, an employee using a wheelchair would have a different working reach envelope than a freestanding employee.

Ideal workplace design provides workers with all the necessary tools for their job within their working reach envelope.

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