What is ergonomics?
The term comes from the Greek words ‘ergon’ which means work and ‘nomos’ or natural laws. In other words, it is the science of designing or projecting environment, workplace, room or furniture and tools with relation to these places, so that they fit the user’s necessities. A proper design prevents overuse or repetitive strain injuries, medical issues that can develop if left untreated, leading to physical disabilities.
In order to achieve the main goals of ergonomics, one should understand the principles of interactions between humans and machines such as furniture or other elements of these systems. However, the purpose is not only to understand these laws, but also to be able to apply them and obtain easy and safe to use environments.
What sciences are brought together by ergonomics?
Before giving an answer, let’s take a closer look at its different types or categories.
First comes physical ergonomics, which studies human anatomy, physiological and bio-mechanical characteristics of the human body, in order to create equipments and tools which fit with these specific properties.
Cognitive branch of this science is concerned with mental processes (memory, perception, motor response) that affect the interactions among the human body and all the parts of the environment or system in which the individual lives and works.
Last but not the least, organizational part aims to optimize socio-technical systems, by changing their organizational structures, policies and processes. In other words, this type of ergonomics concerns the design of working times, the teamwork and resources management, quality management and communication between employers and employees.
As you can see, there are several aspects that need to be considered when designing an environment. And for this, ergonomists need to have serious knowledge of biomechanics and mechanical engineering, industrial design, anthropometry, kinesiology, physiology and even psychology.
The next branch of the science directly relates to your workplace and aims to provide the comfort and safety of employees. It is used to design better furniture, such as work desks or chairs, and to improve the areas of the room that aren’t used properly. These goals are achieved by equipment and task design, but sometimes they only increase the quality of the environment and not the psychical comfort of the users or employees.
As mentioned before, this science studies the relationships between people and machines and tries to improve them. This is done not only by redesigning the equipments but also by teaching people how to use the existing tools and machines, how to avoid work habits which can create excessive stress and how to reduce the muscular pain which occurs due to inappropriate postures.
Ergonomics looks at the work you do, it evaluates the tools and the environment and finds the best fit between what you’re doing and your job conditions. All the principles as well as the knowledge involved are applied to increase your comfort and safety, reduce the risk of work related injuries and transform your workplace in a friendly one.