Case Study
Workplace design for a production worker with mental disability and spinal disease


The company is a wood processing company.

Disability and functional restriction of the employee:

Early childhood brain damage resulted in the man becoming mentally disabled. He also has a spinal disease and a foot disability. Back pain often occurs as a result of the spinal disease. Heavy and frequent lifting and carrying work should therefore be avoided. Due to the foot disability, there are also difficulties when walking longer distances and when standing for longer.

Training and job:

During his employment in a workshop for disabled people (WfbM), the man was employed in the wood processing sector. He was able to be placed with the company by the WfbM and works there as a production assistant.

Workplace and duties:

Square timber is cut to specific lengths at his workplace. The selection of the lengths is not only based on the required dimensions, but the employee must also take into account defects in the wood. To do this, he takes the approximately six to eight kilograms of squared timber individually from a stack, which is brought to his workplace by other employees with a forklift. Depending on the height of the stack, it may be necessary for the production assistant to lean forward and lift the squared timber in this position. He then carries the wood to the band saw and cuts it to the specified dimensions, taking into account the flaws. If there are flaws in the wood, he cuts out the pieces with the flaws. These pieces then fall into a pile at the back of the saw and are removed by others. The usable square timbers, sawn to the right length, are stacked on a transport trolley. Impairments occurred mainly through constant lifting and carrying as well as long standing. The workplace and working conditions therefore had to be adjusted due to the disability. The stacks of wood coming to the saw are now placed on a lifting table in order to keep the working height constant. The squared timber is then no longer lifted and carried from the pile of wood, but only pulled onto the machine table of the saw. There, the squared timbers must then be marked with a pen at the faulty areas, whereby the employee has to rotate the square timbers about their longitudinal axis. After this step, the sawing is fully automatic, i.e. H. the workpiece is pushed into the saw, the saw recognizes the beginning of the workpiece, the workpiece end and the line markings at the flaws. The information captured by sensors and cameras is evaluated by a computer and the optimum section lengths of the saw are transmitted. The sawing process is fully automatic, as is the output of the cut parts in predetermined boxes. As before, the material is removed by others with the help of a forklift. The remaining demands on the production assistant at the new job can be easily reconciled with their skills and limitations. He has proven over a long period of time that he can correctly identify and mark the imperfections on the squared timber. Since the current activities can only be carried out in a standing posture, an elastic work mat was laid out and a standing aid provided to further relieve the spine and legs at his workplace.

Assistive devices used:

Stools and standing seats (standing aids) Workplace mats Lifting and positioning systems (lifting tables)

Funding and participation:

40 percent of the work organization was funded by the integration or inclusion office. The previous task was carried out with a relatively old but still functioning band saw, so that the company's interest in workplace design was not insignificant - especially since the new system also increases performance. For funding, it was therefore taken into account that the company offers a young man with severe disabilities from a WfbM a contractually agreed job - with a commitment period of eight years for the job. During this period, employees with floating disabilities must be assigned to this workplace. The advice was provided by the technical advice service of the integration and inclusion office. In addition, the transition from the WfbM to the general labor market can be promoted within the framework of the budget for work. As a rule, the providers of integration assistance are responsible for the budget for work.

Keywords and Further Information

No information about funding available.

ICF Items

Reference Number:


Last Update: 7 Dec 2020