Whether they are dealing with a fi re, accident or medical emergency, or receiving reports of a crime, it is absolutely vital for staff at a control centre to stay calm in emergency situations and to respond correctly, reasonably and rapidly. Emergencies are often a matter of life or death. Control room operators are exposed to such stress situations on a daily basis. They are under added pressure from the strain of shift work – sometimes lasting over many years. So a workplace that helps reduce stress and strain to the bare minimum is an urgent necessity.
It is for these reasons that for the new build control centre at Elmshorn particular emphasis was placed on as near perfect ergonomics as possible as an integral part of a healthy design for the workplace as a whole. And in order to achieve this, the staff were involved in the planning process from the outset. Every component that comes into contact with an operator – from their desks via their large screen displays to their chairs – was extensively tested by the staff and graded in a points system. The result is a control centre which sets new standards, not least in ergonomic terms. As well as making the rooms light and bright, the big window areas refl ect a desire of the operators to be involved in what is happening on the ground – they want to be part of the action, not just looking on. All desks are height adjustable so that the staff can work sitting or standing. The air vents for the AC system are also incorporated in the furniture, so there should be no draughts of air. The air is also humidifi ed. The essence of the thoughtful ergonomic design is to be found above all in its details – each desk has a drawer with milled grooves to accommodate a standardised set of basic offi ce material. When one operator follows another on shift, he or she can see at a glance whether the basic set of material is complete or not. Nothing has been left to chance with the colour scheme either. Accents of colour in the otherwise neutral colour scheme are set by three diff erent shades of green that recur conceptually throughout the building. Side rooms such as the two computer centres also exude a friendly atmosphere with a trendily green rubber fl oor. In a fi tness room equipped with a treadmill and training tower the operators can do their muscles a favour after a long shift, or can bring their adrenalin levels back down to normal following especially stressful work situations.
Now that the new control centre has been up and running for a few months, the staff in Elmshorn are sure of one thing – the additional outlay for the modern, ergonomic design which was pretty modest given the proposed service life of the new build control centre will quickly pay for itself thanks to increased staff satisfaction, reduced downtime costs and other positive eff ects.