P. S. Kavitha

epgp books




Learning Objective


To find the simplified techniques and most efficient way of using available resources to improve productivity with efficient involvement of human.




Work study and work place study is the generalised term to describe a complete set of techniques through which work can be simplified, standardized and measured. It is mainly related with the examination of human work. It is also an arrangement in the work place which keeps the objective in mind to overcome employee alienation and dissatisfaction from mechanical and repetitive tasks in the work place. It may be done through offering benefits to the employees, physical environment and non- monetary rewards. All the technologies and systems are related with productivity. It is the consistent system of work done in an organisation in order to achieve the best utilization of materials, machines, manpower and methods. It is concerned with reduction of the work condition and methods of doing work as a means of developing and applying more efficient methods and reducing costs. It is basically conducted to simplify the work or working methods and must go towards higher productivity. It is always desirable to perform the requisite function with desired goal minimum consumption of resources. It signifies how a work is to be done and how the resources is been consumed in order to achieve the target.


Definition related to Work place design


Ergonomics or human factors: Ergonomics means law of work. It is a system concerned with the relationship between human beings, machines and the work environment. Anthropometry or anthropometrics: Anthropometry means human measures and it is the study of human body measurements. At its most basic, anthropometrics is used to help scientists and anthropologists understand physical variations among humans. Biomechanics: It is the general study of human motion and its physical aspects.


Work simplification: Work simplification may be defined as accomplishing more work with a given amount of time and energy, or reducing the amount of energy or both to accomplish a given amount of work.


Man and ergonomics


Man is a system; he plans, organises, checks, controls, supervises, evaluates, operates and designs out any system in the world. He is the dominant personality of any system. He works with individual, group or any organisation to perform the job to attain a target. Hence as an integral of any working conditions, its important of any designer to design the working conditions so that the work men employed get the best possible chance to provide good work effectively and efficiently. Ergonomics developed from work study when the investigators concentrated on improving working environment in order to reduce operators fatigue and stress. The major field of ergonomics is the attainment of optimal working conditions or the working environment. It thus, covers a very wide area starting from initial conceptual design stage to ultimate aim. The latest approach is to fit man and machine together. It combines the awareness or knowledge of an anthropologist, physiologist, psychologist, engineer and bio-mechanics.


Anthropometry and Work place design


A proper work environment for workers at work should include the factors related to ergonomics such as human endurance of illumination, pollution, noise, heating and ventilation. All factors concerned with work environments such as design of work place, movement, building planning, personnel and other facilities should be considered. In case of worker postures and movements leading to work efficiency, similarly the work place should suit the body size of operator. It varies from person to person. The variation is observed between


·         Individuals

·         Sex

·         Race


Man has to use physical facilities to work all the time. It includes not only the personnel but the chairs, tables, desks, seats, bicycles, cars and clothing, machine controls such as levers, foot pedals and so on. It should have a relationship with physical characteristics of human beings. The word comfort, safety and performance of individual is influenced by a proper fit to the facilities available. The physical characteristics are hand and feet dimensions, weight, maximum hand and foot reach in a standing and sitting posture and so on. It varies according to age, sex and build.

 An ergonomist is concerned with many aspects such as strengths of various muscles and ranges of movements. A designer is required to ensure the following two things while utilizing the anthropometric data. For designing workplaces, anthropometric dimensions of the workers should be considered. It is classified in to two groupsØ   Reach dimension


Ø   Clearance dimension


Reach dimension


These are designed for the shortest individuals. In kitchen cabinets the uppermost shelf is designed for short females.


Clearance dimension


These are designed for tallest individuals. The opening height of doors is designed for tallest individuals.


The anthropometry includes bodily dimensions, rotation of joints, standing work places, sedentary workplaces, seating at work and design of work stations.


Standing workplaces:


The working heights for hand work while standing is 50-100mm below the elbow level. Working height must suit the height of the operator, whether they stand or sit at work. A working height of 939-989mm will be convenient for men and 853-903mm for women. If the average elbows height from the floor to the underside of the elbow when the arm is vertical, it should be 1039mm for men and 953mm for women. During manual work the height for operation is 100-150mm below elbow height. In ergonomical aspects the working height should be adjusted to suit the individual. A fully adjustable workbench is recommended.


Sedentary work place:


Elis in 1951 stated that the maximum speed for manual work in front of the body is achieved by keeping the elbow down at the sides and the arms make an angle of 900 at the elbow. The plane of work should be in view of operator while he keeps his body in correct posture.


Seating at work


The efficiency of worker increases and fatigue reduces when people are in seated position while working. It uses static muscular effort to keep the joints of feet, knees and hips in a fixed position. The discs prefer an erect posture and the muscles prefer a slight forward curvature this is the relaxing posture most workers expects.


Bodily dimensions:


The circumference of hand calculated at an average of 211mm for men and 187mm for women. The circumference of wrist is calculated at an average of 171mm for men and 161mm for women.


Rotation of joints


The arm can rotate through an angle of 2500  about its own axis in the sagittal plane of which a half circle (1800) lies in front of the body and a further 700 backwards.


Design of workstations


Visual display terminal is used in all offices so it should be designed keeping the following in mind. They are


Ø   The keyboard level should not be too low or too high

Ø   Forearms and rest should have adequate support

Ø   Operators should not have marked inclination

Ø   Legroom space should be adequate.

Ø  The letters on the screen should be 3.4mm high with a comfortable visual distance of 680mm.

Ø  The keyboards at home should not be higher than 30mm above the desk as per the convenience.


Procedure for studying work place design:


Work place study is used to simplify work or working methods and it should go to higher productivity. These are the vital part to accomplish work and simplify. It signifies the methods to be used to avail resources such as manpower, machines, materials and money. It also depicts the method which affects the production output of the unit. It determines the input materials, time power and money consumed.


Work place study can be defined as “A procedure for examining the various activities associated with the problem which ensures a systematic, objective and critical evaluation of the existing factors and in addition and imaginative approach while developing improvements.


Scope of the work place study:


The task of work simplification and compatible work system design concerns the followings


*        Layout of the workstations

*        Working conditions

*        Handling distances

*        Tooling and equipment used

*        Quality standards to be achieved

*        Operators and operations in achieving the production targets.

*        Materials to be used

*        Power required and available

*        Work cycle time

*        Working processes


The objective of the study is to simplify the job and develop more economical methods of doing it. It can be stated as one of most penetrating tools of investigation available to management.


Work place mostly influence the energy of a worker, it is improvised when work place is successfully arranged. It should be designed to meet the requirements of work and worker. It should be based on working style, storage space, situation of the room, body structure, space allocation, and equipment facility and so on. Space allowance for work area should be adequate and sufficient for work area and passage. In order to have a proper allocation of spaces the following principles in arrangement should be made. They are as follows


a) Plan and locate the vital centre of work area where the most work is performed.

b)Evaluation of work performance and use of the body will provide relief to the strained muscles and increases blood circulation. Constant working should be avoided.

c)Arrangement of storage space and work area should be consequently nearby so as to avoid confusion and mishandling.


Work simplification


Work simplification may be defined as accomplishing more work with a given amount of time and energy, or reducing the amount of energy or both to accomplish a given amount of work. In the home it’s the homemaker and the family member who are interested in work simplification. It is the woman who is over worked or accumulated with physiological fatigue and requires immediate relief. It is helpful in how work simplification arouse interest in the minds of the worker to accomplish several purposes.


*        It can reduce time on a given operation

*        It cuts down number of motion and reduce energy cost

*        It reduces boredom and stops routine habits of work

*        It also reduces frustration fatigue due to lack of effectiveness in job.


Techniques of work simplification


A home maker or a worker should be aware of techniques adopted for work simplification. It helps to evaluate the work performance and to simplify the procedure. These techniques are of two types. They are


*        Formal techniques

*        Informal techniques or pen and pencil techniques


Formal techniques


Formal techniques are used to study the performance in laboratory conditions. It’s the formal means to evaluate the work condition of a worker and his performance. The formal techniques are


v   Micro motion film

v   Memo motion

v   Cyclograph

v   Stopwatch technique


Micro motion study:


Micro motion study is best suited for operations which of short duration. Its repeated for several times. It is defines as the technique of recording and analysing the timing of basic elements of an operation with the objective of achieving the best method of performing the operation. It is one of the most accurate techniques. It is recorded by a motion-picture camera by which the performance is evaluated.


Purpose of micro motion study:


The purpose of micro motion study is as follows


a)    To study the nature and movement of path for obtaining elements of an operation.

b)      To study the activities of the machine and the operator.

c)      To impart training to the workers or operators regarding the movements.

d)     To study the relationship of operator and machine.

e)      To keep permanent record of the activity

f)       To obtain motion time data for developing synthetic time standards.

g)      To carry out research in the field of time study.


Procedure of micro motion study


a)      Study and analyse the operations

b)      Obtain the film

c)      Analyse the film

d)     Construct the suitable chart, depending on the type or nature of activities

e)      Method improved, keeping in mind the principle of motion economy.


Advantages of micro motion study


a)      Consumption of film is less

b)      It can be analysed in a smaller time

c)      It serves as permanent record

d)     It can record long sequence of activities.


Applications of micro motion film study


a)      To study group activities extending over periods of time

b)      To study flow of traffic

c)      To analyse material handling activities

d)     To study irregular cycled operations

e)      To study customer selection behavior

f)       For the improvements over the existing method


Memo motion study


Memo motion picture is applied to study larger operations or tasks,60-100 still pictures are taken by the still camera and the evaluation is done from the pictures. In a home activity especially the meal preparation is studied using this technique. The degree of success in reducing the number of motions in the task is studied through this technique.


Cyclograph/ Chronocyclegraph method

It was developed by Gilbreth. Both cycle graph and chronocycle graph records the motion path of an operator. It requires filming equipment. Since the movements are fast its very difficult to trace the movements, so a small electric bulb is attached to the hand finger or other part of the body which is to recorded.


As bulb moves through the space for one complete cycle, path is photographed by still photograph. In making chronocycle graph, a discontinuous or intercepted power supply is given to the electric bulb. This achieved by interrupter. As a result no continuous path is achieved instead a dotted line with pear shaped dots is photographed.


Advantages of cycle graph and chronocycle graph

1.      All types of movements recorded- complex and restricted

2.      It can be used for training purpose

3.      It is used for work method improvement

4.      It explains the pattern of motion performing the operation.




1.      Workers feel uncomfortable with electric bulb or light in their hand while performing the task.

2.      Good photographic skills are required

3.      Not common techniques


Stop watch technique


Time measurement unit- TMU is adopted to study the work its parts and various activities involved. Every second record is maintained using a stop watch the T.M.U. of one second is0.036 part and 0.0006 part of a minute. It will improve the working procedure.


Informal technique/ pen and pencil technique


These methods are easy to follow. It can be adopted for the work performance evacuation at home or work area. These techniques help to simplify the work method.


v   Process chart

v   Operation chart

v   Multiman chart

v  Pathway chart Process chart


Process chart can be used to assess every step involved in work. It is made with the help of process chart symbols. There are five standard symbols which represents all the different types of activities, they are


1.(O) Operation: this indicates the main steps during a process. Concerned material is expected to be modified during the operation. It represents hand activity.

2.(0) Movement:  it indicates movement form one place to another

3.Inspection: as the name suggests, it indicates the inspection for the quality of material and a check for the quantity of material.

4.Delay: it depicts the quantity and quality delay in the work or work area.

5. © It indicates the movement and operation done simultaneously.

Operation chart:


It is made for one activity where different parts of the work are performed in sequence. It is similar to process chart. Process chart is used to analyse the work in total where as operation chart evaluates the activity of hands and fingers. The minute and fine motor skills is been examined in an operation chart.


Here small circle represents movement of the arm and the large circle shows the movement of fingers. Triangles are used for delay in arm and finger movement. The inspection of hand and movement will be done by worker.


Multiman chart


This chart is used by a far person’s member to study a task. It is identical to process chart and similar symbols are used to represent the activities. Greater stress is laid on avoiding delays and introducing new methods and techniques.


Pathway chart


In this method the room plan is used to specify the task, movement and other facilities. The plan is laid on the drawing board with the help of pins and thread the workers position is marked. When the worker moves from one place to another the place is marked by a pin and thread to wound the pin. The housewife moves and lays utensils, cutlery, on the table, pin and thread stretched on the pin. The paper is filled with pin and thread, after the completion of work all the pins on the board is removed and the length of the thread is measured. The changes in the working pattern is been introduced to the worker, like shifting the cabinets, refrigerator near to the work area so as to grasp things easily.


The utensils, cutleries and crockery’s which is used often should be placed near to the work area. In case of industry or office the storage cabinet should be in reach to the work area so as to avoid the movement. The workers were asked to use a trolley or a machine to withhold all the vessels and files to be carried to the work area instead of getting one by one. The workers plan to move in whalers sequence around the table and also to and from the kitchen is systematically planned. This will reduce the movements to the cabinet, and also near the table to arrange it. After these changes are introduced, the pathway chart is again drawn and the work is been performed again which reflects the simplified work which has pass through minute scrutiny.


Other Industrial Techniques:


The formal techniques is followed in industries sector are as follows


Ø  Flow process chart

Ø   Outline process chart and

Ø   Flow diagram


Flow process chart


It can be prepared in similar manner as to prepare outline process chart. A flow process chart indicates the sequence of the flow of a product by recording all the events with the help of process chart symbols. It can be classified in to three groups.


i.Man type flow process chart- records what worker does

ii.Material type flow process chart- records what happens to material

iii. Equipment type flow process chart- records how the equipment is used.


Outline process chart


It is a process chart which gives an overall view of process by recording only the main operations and sequences in proper sequence. It’s obvious that such a chart requires only symbols for Operations and Inspections.


Flow diagram


It is pictorial plan of the work plan on which the flow or the movement of man and materials is shown by drawing the flow lines. The location of the activities is usually identified by their numbered symbols. It has following applications


i.Improved method can be virtualized, if distance travelled to be reduced, it is important to see the place where a facility can be located.

ii. It gives us information additional to flow process chart

iii.  Any unproductive movements can be virtualized easily.

iv.  Proper layout can be visualized with the help of flow diagram




Work simplification is the technique of completing a task by using the least amount of time and energy. As time and energy are closely related, the saving of one leads to that of other. Anyone who is trying to lower time and energy expenditure should learn the value of improving methods of work because the time and energy required to complete a particular work depends on hand and body motions. A convenient method of work must be adopted. In order to accomplish time and energy saving the formal and informal techniques gives training to the worker as well as homemaker to perform the task in consequent manner with less effort. Household tasks and official tasks need proper planning. A balance of time between work, rest and entertainment is very necessary. Every household work should be allotted a suitable work place for implementation of task. the work place should be designed in such a way it should meet the requirements of the performer. Hence the procedures were followed to design work place and perform the activity in delicacy manner.






  • Dr.S.K.Sharma, Savita Sharma (2003),Work study and Ergonomics, S.K.Kataria And sons M.I.khan(2010), Industrial Ergonomics,PHI learning private limited
  • Manjit Kaur Chauhan,(2015), Ergonomics practical manual for beginners, Authors press
  • Anju Khosala & Ruchi Manocha(2016),UGC –Homescience, danika publishing company H.E.Kroemer,(2001), Office Ergonomics,CRC press


Web links


  • https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/
  • http://www.ergonomics.org.uk/
  • http://www.familyresourcemanagement.org/services/work-simplification