ERGONOMICS - DEFINITION AND BASIC INFORMATION

A widespread increase in the availability of technology in the second half of the twentieth century has meant that more and more people come in contact with a variety of product designs on a daily basis.

Regardless of this increase in the number and types of human users, many engineers still concentrate their design efforts on the machine or system alone, forcing the user to adjust to fit the product.

Such readjustments on the part of the user can lead to discomfort and dissatisfaction with the design, as well as more serious effects, such as safety hazards and personal injury.

Ergonomics (also called human factors) is an applied science that makes the user central to design by improving the fit between that user and his or her tools, equipment, and environment. Key here is that designs are developed to fit both the physiological and psychological needs of the user.

Ergonomists examine all ranges of the human interface, from static anthropometric measures and movement ranges to users' perceptions of a product. This interface involves both software (displays, electronic controls, etc.) and hardware (knobs, grips, physical configurations, etc.) issues.

Ergonomics grew into a distinct scientific discipline during the second world war. What began as a form of engineering (human engineering or human factors engineering) has come to encompass a wide range of interdisciplinary professions, including psychology, industrial design, medicine, and computer science.

Its practitioners' range in focus includes concept modeling and product design, job performance analysis, functional analysis, workspace and equipment design, computer interfaces, environment design, and so forth.


• There are a variety of areas for ergonomic analysis
- manufacturing - reducing worker stress (physiological) can reduce health problems (lost
days), decrease product cost and increase product quality.
- consumer - increasing ease of use can increase utility of the product.

• Ergonomics is the basis for many design methods such as DFA

• Ergonomics takes into account,
- body proportions
- strength
- desired function

• Non-ergonomic designs typically lead to personal injuries (and hence lawsuits, etc.)

• Typical ergonomic problems in manufacturing are listed along with possible solutions, discomfort - uneeded

strain on worker (e.g. hunching over)
1. training for proper lifting methods
2. rearrange operation locations and sequence to reduce unnatural motions.

efficiency - unnatural motions slow production
1. training for proper lifting methods
2. rearrange operation locations and sequence to reduce unnatural motions.

cummulative trauma disorders - muscle strain injuries (lifting 30lb packages all day)
1. training for proper lifting methods
2. use special lifting equipment

repetitive stress injuries - repeated motions. For example carpel tunnel syndrome in the wrists.
1. rearrange operation locations and sequence to reduce unnatural motions.
2. use ergonomically redesigned equipment (e.g. computer keyboards)

information overload/confusion - excessive, inappropriate or a lack of detail. (e.g. fighter pilots, air traffic controllers)
1. redesign displays to be clear with a minimum amount of good information
2. use of color coding and pictures
3. simplify controls to minimum needed

eye strain - fine focus or bad lighting
1. adjust lighting
2. use magnifying lenses

noise - direct hearing or annoyance. (e.g., piercing tones, just too noisy)
1. special hearing protection equipment
2. redesign workspace to reduce noise reverberation
3. redesign equipment to reduce sound emmisions

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