Ergonomics is defined as the study of human factors and how they affect the design of equipment, systems, and jobs. The term human factors and ergonomics can be used interchangeably. The formal definition of ergonomics is: The scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among human and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.
Ergonomics takes into consideration a person’s size, strength, speed, visual acuity, and physiological stressors, such as fatigue, speed of decision making and demands on memory and perception. Ergonomics include the study of the work environment by considering the physical skills required, time and risk demands and strive to address these issue to improve working conditions . It studies how heat, noise, pollutants and airborne agents can affect workers and how these issues should be addressed. Product design is an important part of ergonomics and new products are continually coming on the market to improve work conditions by improving equipment design. Products such as ergonomically designed keyboards and chairs are common improvements in today’s workforce.
Repetitive motions such as typing or long term use of a manual screwdriver can cause stress to the joints involved. Other activities such as using a jackhammer, lifting heavy objects or working while in an awkward position can cause ergonomic disorders. Most of these activities, if done on an occasional basis only, would not cause problems but when done on a continual basis, the effects become cumulative. Disorders such as Carpal Tunnel, Tendonitis and many back injuries are caused by repetitive motion. Work should not hurt and if you come home at the end of the day with sore shoulders and an aching back, chances are there needs to be some changes made to how things are done at work.
Most employers today are interested in having a healthy work environment for their workers because it means more productivity. It will mean less fatigue and less work lost to injury and illness. Happier workers will also mean that the employer will have less job turnover and thus save money by keeping employees and not having to train new ones every few months. If you have issues related to discomfort with equipment or the environment at your work, talk to your immediate supervisor to address the issues.