Sarasvathi. V

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In recent years work-simplification techniques have been used by research workers in home economics and other fields to improve work methods in homemaking. Motion and time studies have been made of such tasks as food preparation, dishwashing, laundering and ironing, bed making, cleaning, and a number of other tasks. Efficient kitchen arrangements, tools, equipment, storage facilities, and correct heights for work surfaces, chairs, and stools have also been studied.


The busy homemaker who wants to free more energy for certain activities, the employed homemaker who needs to lighten her home workload, and the disabled homemaker who must learn to conserve her energy can use the principles and techniques of work simplification to attain these goals.


The work simplification studies of homemaking tasks indicate that change and improvement in work methods are possible in every home. They also show that there is considerable variety in “best work methods” in different households.. It is true that a number of “best ways” can be found for many of the jobs that are done.


Work simplification is making work easier. According to Nickell and Dorsey, it is the conscious seeking of simplest, easiest and quickest method of doing work. It aims at accomplishing more work with limited amount of time and energy


Classes of Change


Homemakers who wish to simplify their tasks can easily do so by making a careful study of their methods of work. The first step is to apply a questioning attitude to every task. Questions of this sort usually lead to the next step: the making of changes necessary to improve the present method,’ for no one is likely to change habits unless first aware of some reason for doing so. This awareness is essential since it supplies a strong motivating force. A belief that one can improve ways of working and a realization of the gains to be had through reduced fatigue, shortened time, and greater accomplishment act as spurs to devise means of working with greater ease.


One must next realize that changing old habits is not an easy or quick process. More time and effort will be needed and more thought and attention must be given to the task while a new method is being learned. If one is interested in breaking the old habit, the change will be easier.


Mundel classified changes that can improve one’s method of work into five levels.’ Each higher level brought about changes in motions in the level below it. Gross and Crandall 2 combined the five classes of change into three classes. Beginning with the lowest, these are:


(1)   change in hand and body motions, (2) change in work and storage space and equipment, and (3) change in the product. These three classes will be used as a basis for the questions and discussion which follow.


Class 1—Changes in Hand and Body Motions


The focusing of attention on the motions made by the hands and body reveals many possible changes that can save time and energy. Many tasks can be done with less effort by eliminating or combining certain processes, by improving the sequence and routing of work, by developing skills, and by improving body mechanics.


Motions in Working


Rinsing dishes in a drainer and allowing them to dry without wiping is an example of the elimination of a number of Operations in the process. Reducing the utensils used in food preparation is an easy way to save motions. The new methods of combining all ingredients at once in making cakes, or the use of cake mixes, are designed to eliminate a number of operations used in the longer preparation processes. The stacking of dishes in the order in which they will be washed, or ironing sheets so they can be unfolded and spread on the bed with the fewest motions are other examples of ways to save time and unnecessary motions.


Keeping the house in smooth-running order requires many steps, with the possibility of great waste of both energy and motions. By careful planning before work is begun, many steps may be saved. Making one trip take the place of several is one of the easiest ways to eliminate steps. This may be done by carrying several things at once as one makes trips about the kitchen or up and down stairs. Trays and baskets are helpful step-saving aids.


Sequence of Work


Improving the routing of work in the home is another way of reducing steps. The making of a movement or pathway chart on the floor plan to show the paths being traveled by the worker in doing a task is an easy way to learn the number of trips being made and the distances being walked. Such a chart usually suggests the most logical and effective route to follow from the be-ginning to the completion of a task. Besides reducing steps, changes in the routing of work frequently save unnecessary handling of equipment and supplies. For ex-ample, when dishes are stacked at the right of the sink, washed, dried, and stored at the left, minimum motions are required. In such tasks as the making of muffins, serving meals, laundering, and cleaning, the routing problem is more difficult to solve. These tasks call for collecting and arranging materials and equipment and clearing away afterward. The routing of each task is different and requires separate study. The main objective is to find the shortest and most direct way of doing the task.


Kitchen jobs often lend themselves to grouping and combining or dovetailing, Many tasks require a great deal of walking and frequent changes from one type of muscular work to another. When this is true, it usually saves time and effort to proceed with one operation until it is finished.


Skill in Work


The development of skill in the performance of homemaking tasks eliminates many time- and energy-consuming g motions in the day’s work. Tasks are easily done and plans are executed with speed and smoothness by the skilled and experienced homemaker. Her motions are graceful and rhythmic, and they reflect the mental control behind the motions. Rhythm is a fundamental process in everyday living and may be used to increase efficiency. In watching a skillful homemaker at work, one notices the rhythm and ease with which she moves and how one motion seems to flow into the next without any conscious effort. There is a rhythmical movement in the swing of the broom, in the operation of the vacuum sweeper, in the washing of dishes, in the beating of batters, in the slicing of vegetables, and in the rolling of pastry—in fact, in every skilled operation. Some homemakers work fast, others more slowly, but it will be seen that each one has a natural swing or rhythm peculiar to her.


In repetitive activities a continuous movement is generally less fatiguing than several angular movements or straight-line motions involving sudden and sharp changes in direction, although both may be rhythmical. If the end of each movement is rounded so that the return stroke is a continuation of the forward movement, one movement passes easily into the next. With movements of this kind, there is a definite economy of effort.


Rhythmic work is also less tiring than non rhythmic work because the “working bones” have double sets of muscles. When work is done rhythmically, one set rests while the other net works. If work is done tensely and awkwardly, both sets are working at once, and fatigue conies more quickly.


Anyone performing a new task uses considerable effort to over-come the difficulties experienced in doing an unfamiliar task.


Posture in Housework


To avoid strain and to develop a good body carriage while working, some attention should be given to posture habits in standing, sitting, stooping, and bending while at work. Good posture in doing any task may be defined as the position which requires the expenditure of the smallest amount of energy. A good standing posture is one in which the head, neck, chest, and abdomen are balanced vertically one upon the other, so that the weight is carried mainly by the bony framework and a minimum of effort and strain is placed upon the muscles and ligaments. When the body is well balanced in the standing position, the head will be directly over the feet, and the center of gravity will pass through the middle ear, shoulder, hip, the outside of the knee, and the outside of the ankle.


A good sitting posture for work is a well-balanced and poised position. The weight is carried by the bony support of the skeleton, thus relieving the muscles and nerves of all strain. The poise is such that minimum adjustment is necessary for such action as the work may demand. The line of gravity falls through the middle of the shoulders, hips, and seat bones. The body is straight from hips to neck, and there is no flex or bend at the waistline.


Poor standing and sitting postures may result in permanent changes in the spine, in positions of the joints, ligaments, and muscles, and in the location of the organs of the body.

Such changes produce strains and tensions which increase the fatigue cost of homemaking tasks.


Using the most comfortable body position while working eases the body and relieves strain. Alternating standing and sitting is more restful than either one continued for a long period. Doing a task the efficient way means saving both time and energy.


Class 2 – Changes in Work and Storage Space and Equipments


They include such changes as: organizing storage space, rearranging large kitchen equipment, planning work surfaces of the proper height and width, and adding new equipment and working tools. Many changes can be made with a small expenditure of money, and often with only the ingenuity of some member of the family. Some helpful questions to ask regarding such changes are presented in the following pages.


Is the Major Equipment Efficiently Arranged?


The possibilities of savings in time and steps through changes in both kitchen arrangement and equipment were studied. The improved arrangement released 45 percent of the homemaker’s time and eliminated 91 percent of the steps. Other studies of equipment arrangements in different-shaped kitchens indicated various ways of reducing travel distances in planning new kitchens, or in rearranging old ones.


Are Work Surfaces a Comfortable Height and Width?


The heights of kitchen work surfaces should be given careful attention because equipment of a comfortable height suited to the worker permits good working postures. When the work surfaces in the kitchen are too low, one must stand in a stooped, uncomfortable position while working. If the surfaces are too high, the arms and shoulders must be raised to make the adjustment to the height. When the surfaces are too wide, it means stretching the arms and bending the body. Such adjustments cause unnecessary strain and fatigue.


Good standing position is possible only when the height of the working equipment is built or adjusted to fit the physique of the worker. The most satisfactory method for determining the best work surface heights is for the worker’ to test different heights and find those at which tasks can be done most comfortably.


A chair or stool of the proper height and type makes it possible for a worker to sit comfortably while doing tasks at the sink, work table, or lap-board, or when ironing clothes at a board or electric ironer. A comfortable work chair or stool should induce a good sitting posture without physical strain, and should have the following features: The chair or stool should permit the worker to sit comfortably with both feet resting on the floor or a footrest.


The seat should be low enough so that there will be no pres-sure from its front edge on the area behind the knees. A seat that is too high tends to interfere with the nerves and blood vessels in this area, thereby causing discomfort and restlessness. A shallow seat allows the worker to bend at the hips when leaning forward. A deep seat causes the worker to slump and bend at the waistline and drop the shoulders forward. A seat should have a moderate backward slope to prevent the worker from sliding forward.


A back rest should be provided to give support to the small of the back. A chair should not have a horizontal support or bar lower than 6 inches above the seat. The open space allows the worker to sit back in the seat so that the small,of the back receives proper support.


Are Tools and Equipment the Most Efficient That Can Be Chosen?


Purchasing the efficient working equipment for doing household tasks and for the care of the family should be given careful thought, because this is one of the easiest methods to control time and energy expenditure.


Equipment which is technically inadequate, such as the egg beater that sticks, the paring knife that fails to hold an edge, the ironing board that is warped or that rocks, the mixing bowl that tips or is hard to clean, the stirring spoon that is poorly de-signed, or the oven that is too small, is not only wasteful of time and energy, but also causes nervous irritations resulting in fatigue.


Are Small Equipment and Food Supplies Stored Near the Place of Use?


Much needless walking, lifting, and re-handling can be eliminated by storing small equipment and food supplies at the work centers where they will be used. This means that skillets, griddles, and seasonings will be at the range, equipment used in dish-washing and in the preparation of vegetables, such as kettles, pans, and paring knives, at the sink, and bowls and food supplies at the food-mixing center.


All tools, utensils, dishes, and food supplies should also be stored in such a way that they are readily .accessible. This may be accomplished by adjustable shelving arrangements of one kind and another. Storage one row deep on shelves and one layer deep in drawers saves stacking and crowding. Definite and convenient storage spaces enable the worker to do kitchen tasks with a time-saving sequence of movements and with the minimum conscious effort. Frequently used heavy utensils should be stored as nearly as possible at work surface level. This keeps the most used pieces of equipment within easy reach and reduces needless shoulder lifting.


Are Supplies and Tools Within Easy Reach?


Arranging supplies and tools within easy reach simplifies many tasks. There is a normal and easy working area for the right hand and the left hand working separately and for both working together. The arcs for the normal working area in the horizontal plane are determined by the sweep of the hands with the forearms extended and the upper arms hanging at the side of the body in a natural position. The overlapping section is the area in which work with both hands may be done more conveniently. Arcs drawn with the arms extended from, the shoulder will give the maximum working area. Each hand has its normal working area in the vertical as well as the horizontal plane in which the work may be done with least time and effort. The maximum working area may also be determined beyond which work cannot be done without disturbing the posture. When storing materials above the working surface, thought should be given to these facts. Adopting the practice of leaving tools and equipment in the position in which they will be used or picked up again avoids turning and re-handling.


Class 3—Changes in the Product


Simplification of work through changes in the product calls for an appraisal of available resources and the family’s standards of housekeeping. Most families have desirable finished products in mind that they consider important. Many of these standards have passed from parents to sons and daughters, and often such traditional patterns are difficult to change. Different standards, however, are more easily accepted if they are discussed by the family, so that everyone understands why the change is being made. In this way, reluctance to accept new and simpler methods is overcome.


In recent years technological advances have brought many new materials on the market, designed to simplify work in the home. The use of these materials frequently means acceptance of different standards, although this may not always be true. The advantages of many of these materials is that they save time as well as many motions.


Changes in the product may come from the use of different raw materials, or the making of a different product from the same raw materials, or changes in both raw materials and the finished product. Examples of the use of different raw materials are: paper napkins and paper kitchen towels that save washing and ironing, powdered coffee in place of regular coffee, frozen peas instead of fresh ones that must be shelled, use of textiles that require little or no ironing, and shortcut recipes baked in the bowl in which they are mixed. Examples of different end products from the same raw materials are: baked apples instead of apple sauce, , and sheets and towels folded unironed. An example of a different raw material and the finished product is the use of woven grass or plastic table mats instead of a linen tablecloth. In planning the day’s meals or the week’s cleaning, a wise manager is constantly thinking of time and energy costs in relation to the finished products, and often adjusts standards when costs run too high.


Class 4 -Changes in the finished product;


Simplifying work by making changes in the finished product calls for an appraisal of available resources and the family’s standards of housekeeping most families have certain desirable finished products in mind that they consider important. Many of these standards have passed from parents to sons and daughters, and often such traditional patterns are hard to change. Different standards, however, are more easily accepted if they are discussed by the family so that everyone understands why the changes are being made. In the way, reluctance to accept new and simpler methods is overcome.


Class -5 Changes in materials;


In recent years technological advances have brought on the market many new materials designed to simplify work in the home. The use materials frequently mean the acceptance of different standards, although this may not always be true. The advantages of many of these materials are that they bring an enormous reduction in time and energy.


Techniques of Work Simplification


Attention was first focused on work simplification through re-search carried on in the industrial field. Motion and time studies showed that improvements in methods of work not only eliminated useless motions but also saved the worker’s time and energy.


Simpler Pen and Pencil Techniques


For purposes of influencing homemakers to become more motion-minded, the elaborate techniques of industry are out of place. Popularized forms of research films are, of course, good for arousing interest, but the detailed analysis of films is impractical for homemakers. At the practical level, certain simple techniques of study are possible—notably, the process chart, the operation chart, and the pathway, or flow, chart. Any one of these devices is usable by persons interested in work simplification in a study group or in a home. It is equally applicable, if done with precision, to true research in home tasks.


Some of the techniques used for motion and time studies are: the pathway chart, the process chart, the operation chart, and micromotion film analyses. The pathway chart is a simple device for making a motion and time study in the home. A floor plan drawn to scale and fastened to a drawing board or wallboard, pins, and thread are all that are needed to make such a study. Pins are put in on the floor plan where the worker turns, and the line of travel or pathway is measured from thread wound around the pins as she works. After a study of this process, a revised plan can be made on another floor plan.


The process chart is a step-by-step description of the method used in doing a task. It shows the flow of movement in the task and is most helpful in calling attention to unnecessary steps and motions. The operation chart is used in making a more detailed study of some particular part of the process. In this chart the movements are broken down into the activities of both the right and left hand. The finer analysis shows where unnecessary motions are being made and where delays occur in work. Both process charts and operation charts are useful motion- and time-study techniques. They require no special equipment and their use produces astonishing results. Micromotion film analysis is primarily a research technique and applies best to tasks that can be easily filmed. Motion pictures of tasks done under normal conditions make a permanent record that can be analyzed and charted to show the work of the hands or other parts of the body used in the operation. By means of a timing device, the time of each movement of the worker can be accurately recorded.


The cycle graph, a photographic device, is also used to study types of motions used in performing tasks. When this is attached to some portion of the body, such as the hand when ironing is being done, it registers the pathway of light projected by a small electric bulb. The resulting record shows whether the movements are smooth and rhythmic or non rhythmic. This is an effective way to learn how motions may be reduced and how methods of work may be improved in doing a task. One of the newest devices now being tested is the chronocyclegraph. By using small lights on the middle finger of each hand, patterns of simple and intricate tasks can be photographed and recorded on a film.




Time and work-reducing ideas-work simplification and motion-mindedness-may be used by everyone. Work simplification is the conscious seeking of the simplest, easiest, and quickest method of doing work. Motion-mindedness is an awareness of the motions involved in doing a task and an interest in possible ways of reducing them.The Busy Homemaker who wants to free more energy for certain activities, the employed homemaker who needs to lighten her home workload, and the disabled homemaker who must learn to conserve her energy can use the principles and techniques of work simplification studies of homemaking tasks indicate that change and improvement in work methods are possible in every home.

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