Posted on 25th Jul 2011 @ 2:00 PM
The field of ergonomics is rapidly expanding into every room in the house. You can get an ergonomic chair for your home office, space-saving organizers for your bathroom, and numerous electronic gadgets to improve the viewing experience in your TV room. So why not the kitchen?
Designers and builders are embracing products and strategies to improve the ergonomics of the most complex room in any house. After all, countless injuries (both acute and repetitive) often originate in the kitchen. So why not make an effort to improve the health of the room's most frequent occupants?
Here are some of the kitchen injuries that can be reduced simply by making a kitchen more ergonomic.
Burns. This is perhaps the most common type of kitchen injury. Many burns result from spillage out of hot pans or pots. Lowering the height of the stove tops so that it's easier for the cook to peer into a pot can help prevent some of these painful mishaps.
Falls. These types of accidents can cause serious harm to elderly homeowners. The most efficient way to reduce falls is to shrink a kitchen's primary workspace. This means shortening the distance between the refrigerator, sink, oven, stove, and microwave oven.
Lower back injuries. Many ovens were built so that their doors are just a few inches off of the floor when opened. As a result, many people have had to bend down considerably to pull food out of the oven. Raising the ovens so that the door opens at eye level makes it much easier for chefs to remove a heavy turkey without hurting their backs.
Middle back injuries. These can result from stooping over to dig in a cabinet underneath a counter. Installing pull-out drawers in these cabinets can reduce back strain during the search for the ideal pot or pan.
Shoulder injuries. Repetitive reaching or stretching can throw the shoulders out of whack. This can be a problem if a person has to reach into the back of a cabinet or pantry regularly to fish out ingredients or dry goods. Space-saving shelf units, easy-access wire racks, slide-out drawers, and rotating shelves can help keep almost everything at the cook's fingertips.
Bruises and cuts. You'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) at how often people sustain bumps, bruises, and cuts from knocking into open cabinet doors. An easy way to eliminate that danger is to install cabinet doors that swing upward (much like the car doors on a DeLorean car).
Eyestrain. Research shows that people in their 50s need twice as much light to read as do young adults -- even if their eyesight is perfect. This can lead to eyestrain in the kitchen when trying to read cookbooks, recipes, or baking instructions. Recessed lighting underneath cabinets can illuminate the darker areas of any kitchen and reduce eyestrain.
The next time you're thinking about remodeling your kitchen or building a new home, be sure to factor in ergonomics as well as functionality and aesthetics. Your body will thank you.