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Case Study Workplace design for a secretary


The employer is a church-run counselling and training institution.

Disability and functional limitation of the employee:

The woman has a bilateral knee damage and a right shoulder disease. Due to the knee damage, she is unable to walk and relies on the use of a forearm crutch (left). Due to the shoulder disease, she can only raise her right arm to a maximum of shoulder height. Therefore, she should not be used for activities that require a certain degree of mobility, lifting as well as carrying and assuming certain postures. The GdB (degree of disability) is 70. The severely disabled person's certificate includes the mark G.

Training and job:

The trained industrial clerk has been employed by the employer as a secretary for several years.

Workplace and work task (actual state):

The secretary works in an individual office at a computer workstation with ergonomic office chair and electromotive height-adjustable work table on the first floor of the administration building, which she can reach via a lift. Among other things, she carries out commercial tasks (e.g. bookkeeping, invoice processing) and is entrusted with the planning and organisation of training courses.
Due to the shoulder disease and the use of the forearm support, she is only able to lift and carry light and small objects. Handling file folders out of and into the filing cabinets (lower and upper two levels) is not possible for her independently. Working on the PC leads to rapid fatigue of the right arm and finger stiffness or cramp in the right hand. Handwritten notes during telephone calls are very burdensome. Preparing and carrying out catering at internal training events is not possible independently, as this involves standing and walking for long periods in the kitchen and working with both hands.

Workplace and work task (target state):

The filing cabinet in the office has been replaced by an office paternoster (circulating shelf), which allows files to be removed and filed in an ergonomic posture. In addition, movable forearm supports were installed at the desk in the office at the computer workstation to relieve as well as support the arms (especially the right arm), and a trackball and ergonomic keyboard were provided to reduce shoulder-arm movement.
By using a trolley with handbrake (dead man's brake - trolley brakes automatically when released), storage as well as provision and transport is possible. The trolley can also be used for catering preparation at the same time. A saddle chair provides additional relief as a mobile standing aid, for example in the kitchen.
By redesigning the workplace, the secretary is once again able to perform her work tasks independently.

Assistive products used:

Further Information

The equipping of the workplace with an ergonomic office chair and an electromotive height-adjustable work table was previously supported by the German pension insurance as part of participation in working life. The employer later applied to the Integration Office for compensation of the extraordinary burden due to reduced performance. Within the scope of the consultation by the Integration Office (Technical Consultation Service), the workplace could be designed suitable for disabled people and the extraordinary burden for the worker could be compensated - thereby no economic advantage arose for the worker.

ICF Items

Reference Number:


Last Update: 27 Jul 2016