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What Exactly Is Ergonomics

Oct 5, 2007
Have you ever heard the term "ergonomics" and wondered what it meant exactly? You probably didn't want to expose your ignorance, so were afraid to ask. Ergonomics is the use of information from scientific sources in order to design environments, systems and objects for the use of human beings whether for work or for play. This definition was adopted in 2007 by the International Ergonomics Association or the IEA.

One of the most common use of ergonomics, is for companies to learn to design work areas, and tasks that will maximize efficiency as well as the quality of work of their employees. The concept of ergonomics is not just for businesses, it concerns anything and everything that has to do with people. Well designed health and safety measures, areas involving sports and leisure activities, as well as work systems embody the main principles of ergonomics.

This field is also known as biotechnology. The main goal of this science is to reduce the operators' discomfort and fatigue in order to make the best use of efficiency and productivity. Other names that ergonomics is known by are human factors engineering, and human engineering.

Ergonomists study the capabilities of human beings in relation to the demands of their work. The information that Ergonomists supply often greatly contributes to the evaluation and design of products, jobs, environments, systems operations and tasks to make them more compatible with the requirements, limitations and abilities of people.

The Three Ergonomic Domains

The International Ergonomics Association divides the science of ergonomics into three separate domains. The first is physical ergonomics. This deals with the responses of the human body to physiological as well as physical stress.

The second domain of ergonomics deals with the cognitive aspect. This is also known as engineering psychology. This aspect concerns itself with the mental processes like motor control, perception, cognition, and attention. It also studies the storage of memory and the retrieval of those memories as they can affect the interaction of the elements of a particular system and the human that is applying it. Important topics that are studied are training, mental workload, computer to human interactions, vigilance, human error, skilled performance and decision making.

The third domain of ergonomics is the organizational aspect. This is also known as macroergonomics. Organizational ergonomics is concerned with optimizing sociotechnical systems. This includes the processes, policies and their organizational structures. Topics under this domain can include ethics, shift work, telework, scheduling, teamwork, safety culture, job satisfaction, supervision skills and the theory of motivation.

The principle of ergonomics is not a new one. It has been used since the fifth century BC. The term ergonomics is taken from two Greek words; the Greek word ergon, which means work, and the word nomos, which means natural laws. This science is more complex than the average person realizes and comes into play in everyone's daily life. Most people don't realize the desk or chair they are working at is a product of the science of ergonomics
About the Author
James Brown writes about Ergonomic, Ergo Mouse and Keyboards
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