The word ergonomics sounds similar to the word economics, but it refers to a totally different aspect. Economics is the study of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services or the financial elements of something while, on the other hand, ergonomics means a totally different thing.
Ergonomics is a term taken from the Greek word “ergon”, meaning “work,” and “nomos”; meaning “natural laws.”
It simply means the study of how a workplace and the equipment used there can best be designed for comfort, efficiency, safety and productivity and the other definition simply means those factors or qualities in the design of something, especially a workplace or equipment used by people at work, that contribute to comfort, efficiency, safety and ease of use.
A lot of people do not really care how their workplaces are designed, resulting in their health deteriorating and further leading to death. A badly designed workplace can lead to serious injuries. Scientists across the world have always come with new designs of machinery to increase productivity in the workplace but technology also brings along other problems.
According to a report released by the United States of America Labour Department, 1.8 million people suffer from musculoskeletal injuries due to poor body mechanics and fatigue, which are related to poor ergonomics. Injury and illness in an ergonomically unfriendly environment are a result of poor posture and body mechanics within the working environment.
Like they say, too much of something is always harmful; the overuse and awkwardly extended body positions in the workplace can lead to back pains and spinal injuries.
According to medical experts, repetitive motion injuries, such as typing and the use of the mouse on the computer can lead to a condition called Tendinis Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Ergonomics does not only apply in the offices, but it also applies even in the factories, shops, farms and everywhere where there is use of equipment. Many work related injuries are said to develop over time and they are called cumulative trauma disorders (CTD) or repetitive motion disorders. They are caused by repetitive, constant, excessive stress on muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and nerves.
According to the study, offices should be laid out to complement the employees and their work, with the chairs serving as the center piece of all other furniture settings, for example, a chair that is adjustable for the height, back angle and height. The arms of the chair should also be adjustable with the elbow at the right angles to the keyboard or desk surface. The seat of the chair should also be large enough to support the worker’s thighs and the bottom.
The study also advices that while one seat working on a computer, he should rest his or her feet on the floor and adjust the chair to be in good level with the computer screen.
Things such as lighting in ergonomics are very vital in order to minimize vision problems.
Studies have also revealed that offices should reduce glare from the windows by using low wattage bulbs. It is always advised to open the windows to let in natural light because it is said to be much easier on the eyes.
Another research has also been put forward about how astronauts brush their teeth in space since there are no sinks in the space craft and no gravity. The question is how would they rinse and spit out after brushing. Scientists have invented foamless toothpaste that does not need water but has a pleasant taste and is safe to swallow.
This clearly shows ergonomics at work. It shows that the toothpaste is user friendly and meets the requirement of nature in that particular place.
The employee’s posture is very crucial in ergonomic consideration to curb musculoskeletal injuries. If the companies use ergonomics in designing facilities and teaching employees good ergonomic practices, many repetitive stress injuries would be avoided.
The company will also save money in insurance, health benefits.
The more good ergonomics is applied, the more production improves and the health life span of people or employees would last.