Ergonomics

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Ergonomics is the science of designing the workplace environment to fit the user. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability.[1]

The International Ergonomics Association defines ergonomics as follows:[2]

Ergonomics is employed to fulfill the two goals of health and productivity. It is relevant in the design of such things as safe furniture and easy-to-use interfaces to machines.

Contents

Overview

Ergonomics is concerned with the ‘fit’ between people and their technological tools and environments. It takes account of the user's capabilities and limitations in seeking to ensure that tasks, equipment, information and the environment suit each user.

To assess the fit between a person and the used technology, ergonomists consider the job (activity) being done and the demands on the user; the equipment used (its size, shape, and how appropriate it is for the task), and the information used (how it is presented, accessed, and changed). Ergonomics draws on many disciplines in its study of humans and their environments, including anthropometry, biomechanics, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, industrial design, kinesiology, physiology and psychology.

Typically, an ergonomist will have a BA or BS in Psychology, Industrial/Mechanical Engineering or Industrial Design or Health Sciences, and usually an MA, MS or PhD in a related discipline. Many universities offer Master of Science degrees in Ergonomics, while some offer Master of Ergonomics or Master of Human Factors degrees. In the 2000s, occupational therapists have been moving into the field of ergonomics and the field has been heralded as one of the top ten emerging practice areas.[3]

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