WHY Ergonomics
Ergonomics reduces workers compensation and thus gives a net return and helps workers work faster (Lean Manufacturing)


Study of the environmental, physiological, and psychological aspects of physical and mental work
  • Human-Machine-Environment Interaction
  • Human interaction with the world around us
  • "study of work"
Through the Body
Through the Mind
Specific Topics
Human anatomical, anthropometric, physiological, and biomechanical characteristics.
  • Working postures
  • Materials handling
  • Repetitive movements
  • Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Workplace Layout
  • Safety & Heatlh
  • Thermal comfort range with suits people best
  • Noise at night vs noise during the day (when you want it louder)
Specific Topics
Mental processes such as perception, memory, reasoning, motor response
  • Mental workload
  • Decision Making
  • Skilled Performance
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Human Reliability
  • Work Stress and training
  • Air Traffic Control: Controller has a screen built into the workstation, plus telephones and radios - this presents the controller with a lot of information
  • Lighting Survey; make sure ceiling lights do not reflect off screens so controller can see what's on the screen
  • How long it is reasonable to expect controllers to work
  • Introduce more automation to have controllers have more time to make decisions
  • Formalized (multidisciplinary) study of how humans interact with hardware (science)
  • Set of principles that govern how people interact with hardware and software (technology)
  • Trained professionals who use ergonomic principles to reduce people-system mismatch problems (field of practice)
Overview of Ergonomics
Why ergonomics is needed.
  • Excessive occupational strains and sprains cost: billions of dollars a year
  • Excessive Overexertion Injuries affect 5 million workers a year (2nd to flu/colds causing absenteeism)
  • Excessive Impact Injuries: Over 8000 workers die yearly
  • Excessive Defect Rates and Absenteeism
Workers Expect It
  • Several national unions require,  by contract, that formal Ergonomic committees function in their plants to evaluate and redesign jobs found to have excessive strain and sprain injuries
Legal Requirements
  • Disability law requires employer to make reasonable job accommodations for special individuals. 
  • EEO law requires great care to assure women and older applicants be given equal employment opportunities.
  • OSHA has leveled its largest fines for overexertion injuries and increased its regulatory and enforcement capability. 
Knowledge Base Supports It
Competition is Doing It
  • Enrollment in Ergonomics short courses has quadrupled in the last 5 years
Good Public Relations
  • Many corporations with Ergonomics programs have been featured in the media as promoting improvement of the work environment.
Moral and Ethical Concerns
Do not harm fellow human beings.
Goals of Ergonomics
SCAPE: (Safety, Comfort, Aesthetics, Productivity, Error)
  • Reduce Error
  • Increase Productivity
  • Enhance Safety
  • Enhance Comfort
  • Improve Aesthetics
Challenge of Implementing Ergonomics
  • Young Discipline
  • Multi-Disciplinary
  • Complex Problems
Human Factors Cycle
Examples of Injuries
CID - Cumulative Trauma Disorder
RSI - Repetitive Stress Injuries
  • Brain
  • Body
  • Machine
  • Environment
Identification of Problem
  • Reactive Ergonomics - corrective actions needed
  • Proactive Ergonomics - thinking about ergonomics before there is a problem (Much more desirable method)
Implement Solutions
  • Equipment Design (changes nature of physical equipment humans work with)
  • Task Design (changing what operators do)
  • Environmental Design (changes in the physical environment like temperature or lighting)
  • Training (better preparing workers for conditions that he or she will encounter in workplace by teaching and practicing necessary skills)
  • Selection (recognizing the individual differences across humans in almost every physical and mental dimension that is relevant for good system performance.)
  • Engineering psychology - the study of cognitive limits
  • Engineering Psychophysiology - the study of motor performance
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