ERGONOMICS » Importance of Ergonomics

Importance of Ergonomics

Ergonomics involves the scientific application of human data when designing the working environment. The purpose of work place ergonomics is to increase the comfort, safety and efficiency of workers by fitting the environment to them not the other way around.

Adapt utilise their professional training and experience to specialise in ergonomic design for the workplace, giving consideration to both the individual worker and the company as a whole.


What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theoretical principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well being and overall system.

Practitioners of ergonomics, ergonomists, contribute to the planning, design and evaluation of tasks, jobs, products, organizations, environments and systems in order to make them compatible with the needs, abilities and limitations of people.

(Definition from the International Ergonomics Association.)

 

dfgadgfaddfgfadfg'Ergon' meaning 'work' and 'nomos' meaning 'natural law'.

 

ergonomic postures

 

Brief History of Ergonomics

Although the use of the word 'ergonomics' is relatively new, the concept itself is not. One of the first noted interests in ergonomics was in the 16th century, from Italian physician Bernardino Ramazzini, who wrote a medical journal ('De Morbis Artificum' - translated as 'Diseases of Workers') about complaints from his patients. The journal details a variety of injuries and how these related to the working environments and occupations of his patients. The use of the term 'ergonomics' was eventually coined by Wojciech Jastrzebowski and came into use around 1857.

An example of ergonomics in the 19th century was introduced by Frederick Winslow Taylor. A 'scientific management' was implemented as a method for increasing efficiency in workers shovelling coal. Taylor found that by reducing the size and weight of the shovels used, the amount of coal being shovelled was tripled. The changes in the shovel design also lead to reductions in work related injuries and increases in productivity.

In the 1900 the concept of ergonomics was further explored in the 'Time and Motion Studies' by Frank and Lilian Gilbreth, which examined techniques for reducing the number of motions required to perform a given task successfully. In one example brick layers were able to increase their productivity from 120 to 350 bricks laid in one hour, due to a reduction in the number of motions involved per brick lay.

Ergonomics was further used during World War II to enhance cockpit design as a means to reduce pilot errors and increase safety.

 

Why is Ergonomics Important in Your Office?

Investing in ergonomics can help to increase the health and wellbeing of office personnel. Effective ergonomic products and practices can increase productivity by reducing the time taken to complete daily tasks, as well as reducing instances of absenteeism due to work-related injury or illness. As a result of all of these, company productivity can be increased, in turn increasing company profits.


Links of interest:

Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors
Occupational Safety & Health Administration

Health & Safety Executive
Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics