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Ergonomics 18.10.2017

Ergonomics 1Ergonomics literally means "laws of work", coming from the Greek words:
- Ergon (work)
- Nomos (law)

The science of fitting the job to the worker.
Fitting the job to the worker, not the worker to the job.
Use your brain, not your back.
Work smarter, not harder.
Fix the job, not the worker.

Ergonomics can be defined simply as the study of work. In a much more specific way, ergonomics try to fit the tasks and jobs to the workers, instead of forcing the body capacities of workers to fit the job (OSHA, 2000).

Ergonomics is something that affects to everybody and in all different environments, and many times people are not aware of its importance.

International Ergonomics Association defines ergonomics (or human factors) like a scientific discipline that studies the interactions between humans and the different elements of a given system. Ergonomics is, thus, the profession that uses methods, theories, principles and data to optimize system performance with the highest human well-being (IEA, 2017).

IEA 2017Adapting tasks, workstations, tools, and equipment to fit the worker can help reduce physical stress on a worker’s body and eliminate many potentially serious, disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

The worker capabilities must match the demands of the task he is performing. When this matching is in balance, it helps him stay healthy.

Once workers’ capabilities and job demands are evaluated, these factors need to be counterbalanced in order to determine the most appropriate solution for the worker. Our bodies experience strain when the demands of our work exceed our capabilities. Prolonged strain results in pain and injury which may cause impairment and disability.

An injury is the result of an imbalance between job demands and worker capabilities. Injuries tend to progress in stages:

STAGE 1 - The first manifestation of body stress is local muscle fatigue and soreness.

STAGE 2 - As the same type of tasks are repeated, the pain evolves into aching, tiredness, loss of sleep, and difficulty in moving the affected body parts.

STAGE 3 - As the pain develops into an injury, we may not be able to do the work we normally do.

Ergonomics draws on a number of scientific disciplines, including physiology, biomechanics, psychology, anthropometry, industrial hygiene, and kinesiology.

Benefits of Ergonomics

  • Decrease the risk for injury
  • Increase productivity
  • Decrease mistakes/rework
  • Increase work efficiency
  • Decrease absenteeism
  • Decrease turnover
  • Improve morale

When is Ergonomics considered?

  • When workers complain about discomfort or pain
  • When workers performance goes down
  • When workers get sick or injured on the job
  • When management wants design input from the workers
  • When a product is evaluated because of defects