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Ergonomics (from Greek ergon work and nomoi natural laws) is the study of designing objects to be better adapted to the shape of the human body and/or to correct the user's posture. Common examples include chairs designed to prevent the user from sitting in positions that may have a detrimental effect on the spine, and the ergonomic desk which offers an adjustable keyboard tray, a main desktop of variable height and other elements which can be changed by the user.
Ergonomics also helps with the design of alternative computer input devices for people who want to avoid repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome. A normal computer keyboard tends to force users to keep their hands together and hunch their shoulders. To prevent the injuries, or to give relief to people who already have symptoms, special split keyboard s, curved keyboard s, not-really-keyboards keyboard s, and other alternative input devices exist.
Ergonomics is much larger than looking at the physiological and anatomical aspects of the human being. The psychology of humans is also a key element within the ergonomics discipline. This psychological portion of ergonomics is usually referred to as Human factors or Human factors engineering in the U.S., and ergonomics is the term used in Europe. Understanding design in terms of cognitive workload , human error, the way humans perceive their surrounds and, very importantly, the tasks that they undertake are all analysed by ergonomists.
Quote about ergonomics
Engineers make things that are useful to people. In collaboration with designers, ergonomists make things that are usable by people. The concept of usability means making artefacts easy, efficient and comfortable to use (anything from a corkscrew to a control room in a nuclear power station). Most people have experience of poorly designed objects. At best they cause frustration and annoyance (for example when a video recorder fails to record your favourite programme). At worst they can lead to injury or even death (as in the release of radioactive material from a nuclear reactor).
(Neville A. Stanton and Mark S. Young , Nature, 399, 197 - 198 (20 May 1999))
The NIOSH Work Practices Guide for Manual Handling, Technical report nš 81122, NIOSH, Cincinati, Ohio, 1981 is a reference in this field.
- Usernomics - Ergonomics and Human Factors Resources. http://www.usernomics.com/workplace-ergonomics.html
- Ergonomics: Back in the Ring http://www.nsc.org/issues/ergo/backinring.htm National Safety Council
United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration http://www.osha.gov/ eTools and Electronic Products for Compliance Assistance http://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/oshasoft/
- OSHA about computer workstations http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/
Last updated: 02-16-2005 09:16:46
Last updated: 05-06-2005 01:27:49