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Case Study Workplace design for a production assistant and machine operator


The company produces and machines metal workpieces (e.g. turned parts) on behalf of other companies. It hired a severely disabled employee.

Disability and functional limitation of the employee:

The man is severely disabled and wears a lower leg prosthesis on his right leg. Because of the severe disability, he should not be assigned to jobs that require frequent or heavy lifting and carrying. This is especially true if it involves standing for long periods of time or walking long distances.


The previously unemployed man was hired by the employer as a production helper. During the probationary period, he was trained by a colleague in his new area of responsibility.

Workplace and work task (actual state):

The man is employed in the production area at an automatic lathe and boring mill. The blanks to be machined on the automatic lathe are placed in
grid boxes at a distance of approx. 2.5 m and have a maximum weight of 3 kg each. The blanks have to be removed from the grid boxes standing on the floor, manually inserted into the chuck and clamped in the chuck via a foot pedal to be operated. The actual cutting or machining process is triggered by a manually operated button after closing a protective hood and then runs automatically. The machining time varies between 15 seconds and approx. 2 minutes. Afterwards, the machined turned part is manually removed from the chuck and placed on a workbench opposite the machine. While a turned part is being machined, the previously machined turned part is checked and stacked and the next blank is fetched.
Thus, constant walking, carrying, standing and bending is required for loading the lathe with blanks, machining the turned parts, checking the quality and depositing the finished turned parts. In addition, the operation of the foot pedal for clamping the chuck is particularly unfavorable, because the employee must always shift the full body weight to the right leg with the prosthesis for this purpose. In addition, the existing plastic floor, which is often slippery due to the coolant, is not suitable for a person who often only has to shift the weight on one leg.
The working conditions at the boring mill are more ergonomic, i.e. the removal as well as the deposit of the workpieces and the machining or machine operation. The existing floor covering also provides satisfactory stability. Only the permanent standing during the activity has to be changed due to the handicap.

Workplace and work task (target state):

The basis of the workplace design on the automatic lathe is the use of assistive products or two container tilters with a load capacity of 1000 kg as well as a standing seat and their arrangement at the workplace. The container tilters are used to pick up the skeleton containers with the unfinished and finished parts and enable the skeleton containers to be positioned at an ergonomic removal and deposit height. In combination with a standing seat as a standing aid and the close arrangement of the container tilters on the automatic lathe, i.e. the container tilter with the unfinished parts is on the left and the container tilter with the finished parts on the right of the automatic lathe, sitting or standing is possible during the entire activity. The measuring and testing tools required for checking the finished parts are provided close by or in the gripping area on a trolley on wheels, which also enables direct checking of the finished parts on its storage surface.
Even while actuating the foot switch, the employee can maintain the standing-sitting posture on the standing seat. The operation is carried out with the healthy leg or foot - the right leg with the prosthesis is relieved by the standing aid. To avoid accidents due to the risk of slipping or coolant residue on the floor and to improve stability, plastic mats with small openings are laid in the area of the automatic lathe. The openings allow the coolant residues to drain off and possibly to be walked on with crutches. The side edges of the plastic mats have a chamfer to prevent tripping accidents.
At the boring mill, the employee is provided with an ergonomic swivel work chair whose seat can be adjusted to a height (700 mm) that is satisfactory for the employee to be able to perform the activity in a seated posture. To prevent the feet from hanging in the air, the chair has a foot ring for support.

Assistive products used:

Further Information

The job design was funded by the Employment Agency. The employer also received a wage cost subsidy from the employment agency as integration assistance for the employee.

ICF Items

Reference Number:


Last Update: 16 Jan 2013