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BENCHMARKING HUMAN AND DESIGN STANDARDS

Personal Injury accidents make up a large percentage of losses experienced by some of our clients. A useful approach can be to benchmark an individual's performance to standards.

It is important to provide solid technical evidence when stating your case for exposure to liability from loss claims, Occupational Health and Safety Act violations, or Workers' Compensation claims.

As engineers, we can measure the environment in which the accident took place, measure the physical dimensions of the injured person, and perform calculations to determine the forces which may have been acting on the individual at the time of the accident.

It is important to be able to benchmark an individual's performance at the time of the accident with some sort of standard to assist in determining if the individual's performance was 'normal' or 'extreme'. If the performance could be determined to be 'normal' by some standard, then it may be that the design contributed to the injury. If the performance could be determined to be 'extreme', then it may be that the individual contributed to his/her own injury.

Various benchmarks exist for the design of various structures. The 'Ontario Building Code', the 'National Building Code of Canada', the 'Occupational Health and Safety Act' and its various regulations for construction and industry are some.

Benchmarks for human performance are physical data for human dimensions and ranges of movement (anthropometrics) generated by the U.S. military, loading limits on the human spine are provided in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lifting guidelines, and the frequency of materials handling activities are provided in Liberty Mutual Insurance Company's "The Design of Manual Handling Tasks" (Snook tables) are some.

For example, an often cited section of the 'Ontario Building Code' states that stair treads shall have a run of not less than 9 inches and not more than 14 inches and a rise of not less than 4 7/8 inches and not more than 7 7/8 inches. In addition, the average standing bare foot length is 10.4 inches for males and 9.4 inches for females. From these two examples, one might say that the minimum run of stair treads given in the 'Ontario Building Code' is not adequate to fully accommodate the average size foot.

 
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Walters Forensic Engineering | 277 Wellington Street West, Suite 800 | Toronto, ON M5V 3H2
Information contact: engineering@waltersforensic.com