Ergonomic design of control-room workplaces in accordance with the German regulation on VDU work

Project No. IFA 5112


completed 11/2011


Industrial production processes (such as production control, processing processes) or service processes (such as the planning of ambulance journeys and the monitoring and control of traffic flows) are increasingly monitored and controlled from control rooms by means of computer-aided process control systems. The operators in such control rooms are supported in the completion of their tasks by computer terminals. The tasks constitute display-screen work in the sense of the German Ordinance governing such work (BildscharbV). Organization of the tasks and the conditions under which they are performed during these activities are subject to the requirements of the BildscharbV, which is intended to assure a minimum degree of health and safety for the employees. The project was launched and funded by the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), and addressed display-screen work in control rooms and guidance on the ergonomic design of workplaces in accordance with the German Ordinance on display-screen work (BildscharbV). The successful project tender was that submitted by GAWO e.V. (the Association for Employment, Economic, and Organisational-psychological Research) in co-operation with the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA).


The IFA supported the project by conducting an intensive literature survey and a multi-stage iteration process for development of a checklist with 274 evaluation and design parameters. This enabled an analysis and assessment of display-screen work in control rooms to be conducted in the course of the BAuA project. Parameters were developed specifically for display-screen work in control rooms which broadly cover the catalogue of requirements of the BildscharbV. The IFA was involved in evaluating a draft checklist within one company. The final revision of the checklist's structure and content was also actively supported by the IFA. Staff at GAWO e.V. then conducted intensive multi-tier studies in 24 control rooms, and geared their comprehensive analyses to the structure and content of the checklist. The IFA provided advice and recommendations for the conducting of these studies in the control rooms and on the scope and method of the data analyses conducted on 144 workplaces in companies in the production, energy, traffic, safety, telecommunications and media sectors. The observations and measurements conducted in the control rooms with the aid of the parameters on the checklist enabled conclusions to be drawn on the instantaneous design situation and comparison to be made with a target situation, which was defined in terms of parameters with reference to the literature. The interpretations were also to yield information on the progress made in implementing the protective targets of the BildscharbV, and to enable recommendations for action to be developed.


The analyses of the qualitative and quantitative data indicated that in all control rooms studied, a considerable need for action exists in order for the safety objectives of the BildscharbV to be attained. A large proportion of the identified design deficits concern the consideration given to processes of human information processing in the design of the human-system interface. The IFA was involved in documenting and presenting the results. At a BAuA workshop on the subject attended by interested parties from companies, industry associations, research bodies, public authorities and accident insurance institutions, the IFA also presented papers on the project and joined other workshop participants in developing content interactively. A range of measures are available by which hazards can be avoided, accidents prevented, and the health and safety of workers assured. The IFA was also able to contribute to recommendations for action which were and are to be published in addition to the other results from the BAuA project.

Last Update:

2 May 2016


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
  • Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin (BAuA)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • Gesellschaft für Arbeits-, Wirtschafts- und Organisationspsychologische Forschung e.V.

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

design of work and technology, questions beyond hazard-related issues


video work, man-machine interface, plant safety

Description, key words:

human-machine interaction, VDU work, control rooms, process control, dialog design, monitoring and control task, reliability of operation, usability