Ergonomics and Benefits That It Provides

We have heard much about ergonomics and, as a rule, it is related to the work environment: "It is to adapt the work to the worker, not the worker to work" or "The set of techniques whose objective is the adequacy between work and person "is what has always been explained to us.

But, beyond work, we understand ergonomics as "the science of well-being and comfort". This scientific discipline applies the theory, principles, data and methods to design seeking to optimize human welfare and the implementation of the global system.

The concept of ergonomics was born during the Second World War, when two of the countries involved in the conflict, England and the United States, began to use the term when they discovered that the military in charge of the complex artifacts and with high difficulty of operation committed many errors or the devices failed due to an incorrect operation. The design of the artifacts caused errors, failures, fatigue and even stress among those who handled them.

From this point on, the human factors that had an impact on the use of military devices began to be taken into account, in order to prevent failures from reaching unimaginable levels.

From their military use, these "discoveries" have passed to private industry and begin to be applied to products and systems to promote safety and increase productivity.

With the constant trend towards productivity and quality in production systems, the design of new products has led to ergonomics to become a new way of working focused on the user experience to achieve maximum efficiency. For the design of new ergonomic products, several factors that affect the human being at the time of developing an activity or task are taken into account:
  • The posture of the body and its different movements (sitting, standing, walking, lying down, making an effort ...).
  • Environmental factors, such as weather, noise or vibration.
  • Factors of information that can be perceived through the senses, such as sounds, temperatures, lights, etc.
  • Tasks appropriate to user training.

In any system or product design process, first of all, the incompatibilities between the user and the other components must be identified, taking into account the objective for which it is created and how it affects the user physically, mentally and sensorially, studying the environmental conditions , the accessibility to the space where the new design will be used and the characteristics of the possible users (training, physical capacity, skills, etc.).

All these factors have to be taken into account at all stages of the design process, from the moment the concept is born to the creation of prototypes and subsequent stages to avoid raising the costs of the study and, as may be evident, the failures that affect the people.

Ergonomics in Daily Life

In recent years, ergonomics has taken on special importance because man is increasingly aware of the environment and its relationship with the care of the planet.

This science is applied in different areas:

Anthropometry. Study the human body and its measures (size, shape, strength and ability to work). The data obtained from their study are called anthropometric data and are used for the design of workspaces, safety equipment, tools used, etc.

Cognitive ergonomics. It focuses on the study of the interactions between human beings and the other elements of the system. Cognitive ergonomics is especially important in the design of high-tech systems.

Environmental ergonomics It is based on the interaction of people with the physical environment, that is, on the way in which the conditions to which the human being is subjected when performing certain activities, such as the level of noise, temperature or lighting, influence.
Preventive ergonomics. Mainly, it studies and analyzes the conditions of health, comfort and job security.

Biomechanical ergonomics. Its main objective is the study of the body with the aim of obtaining the maximum performance, solving some type of disability and designing tasks and activities so that they can be educated without risk of suffering damages or injuries. Leonardo da Vinci is noted as the precursor of biomechanics by studying the movements of the human body recorded in his Anatomy Notebooks.

Ergonomics of design and evaluation. It collects the data obtained in anthropometric measurements, biomechanical studies, sociological characteristics and customs of society to design and evaluate equipment, systems and workplaces.

Ergonomics of specific needs. Focused basically on the design and development of equipment for people who have some physical disability and for the child population.

Benefits That Ergonomy Provides

The application of the principles of ergonomics can bring us important benefits both at the production level and at the level of physical and mental health.

Some of these benefits are:
  • Decrease in injuries.
  • Greater productivity and efficiency.
  • Greater comfort in the performance and development of activities.
  • Decrease in the commission of errors.
  • Simplification of the tasks to be performed.
  • Decreased fatigue
  • Increased accuracy
  • Reduction of absenteeism.

Today, it is vital to apply ergonomics in each and every field where human beings are present, since their capabilities, limitations and characteristics are relevant to any design.