May 7, 2019
Have you ever wondered why the taps on your sink turn the way they do to open or shut the valve? or why kitchen units are basically the same height around the world? The chances are you never think about the height and position of the screen on the ATM as you withdraw your hard-earned dollar or how the books are organised in your local library. Why would you?!
But behind what we call ‘the everyday’ lies a plethora of designers and engineers who’s experience, innovation and ingenuity help design objects and environments that make our lives easier and help to protect our health, safety and wellbeing often without us even realizing.
Ergonomics which is actually the study of human abilities and characteristics which affect the design of equipment, systems, and jobs. The terms ergonomics and human factors can be used interchangeably, and both mean the same.
Ergonomics/human factors is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among the person and other elements of a system in which the person plays a part, and applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to maximize human well-being and overall system performance.“
The name 'Ergonomics' officially accepted in 1950 and was derived from the Greek words: Ergon – work and Nomos - natural law. First use of the word actually can be traced to a series of four articles written by Prof. Wojciech Jarzembowski in Poland in 1857 but the concept goes back even further. Records show that these principles were documented in 1700 by Bernardino Ramazzini in his book ‘on the diseases of occupations’.
As a global society, we have come a long way in our understanding and application of ergonomic principles, but we are still seeing unacceptable numbers of people experiencing harm and injury across the world. This indicates that we need to keep ergonomics at the forefront of our thinking as part of creating an Incident and Injury Free (IIF™) Environment where people are unharmed and thrive.
Not only is the physical cost of ergonomic injury huge, the financial costs are draw dropping.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’, data from 2013 shows these types of injuries accounted for 380,600, or one-third, of days-away-from-work cases and shows that workers suffering from ergonomics-related injuries required more time off the job than those with other types of workplace injuries and illnesses (a median of 11 days versus eight days). Statistics from OSHA reveal that related workers’ compensation expenses cost businesses $15 to $20 billion each year. What’s more, the Institute of Medicine estimates that the total annual economic burden resulting from workplace MSDs is around $54 billion – and that is just in the United States alone!
Now, the intent of this info share is not to immediately fix all the ergonomic issues in the world, but to keep the focus and conversation going on this most important subject.
Some key practices we should maintain to support our ergonomic health are:
Do take a minute to think about the setup of your work environment every day and let’s help eliminate ergonomic harm for good.
 (International Ergonomics Association Executive Council, August 2000)
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