Thursday, January 14, 2010

Importance of Ergonomics

Definition of Ergonomics:
Ergononimics defined as the scientific study of the relationship between man and his working environment. The primary aims of ergonomics is to optimize the functioning of a system by adapting it to human capacities and needs. Ergonomics is a Scientifically Based Discipline which integrates knowledge delivered from many sciences.

Why Ergonomics?
A stone-age human in an environment using a flint stone as a knife could modify the shape of the stone fitting the hand and task. Today, a product might be designed in one country, manufactured in the second country, purchased by a wholesaler (buyer) in the third country and used by a customer in the fourth country. The designer might not know who are the end users and the buyer cannot influence the design of the product. Ergonomics is the only link between these four actors.

The Scope of Ergonomics
The scope of Ergonomics is extremely wide and is not limited to any particular industry or application. Ergonomics comes into everything which involves people. Work systems, sports and leisure, health and safety should all embody ergonomics principles if well designed. The ability of people to do their job is influenced by the person's capabilities (physical and mental), the job demand (physical and mental) and the condition (physical and organizational environment) under which the person is carrying out the job.

The Objectives of the Ergonomics is to enhance the effectiveness with which work and other human activities are carried out and to maintain or enhance certain desirable human values in the process, health, safety, satisfaction etc.,

The aim of ergonomics is to enhance and preserve human health and satisfaction and to optimize the human performance in a system perspective. Ergonomics is concerned with both employees’ well-being as well as organization well-being. Ergonomics aims to ensure that human needs for safe and efficient working are met in the design of work systems. The key words are; health, comfort and performance.

It seems safe to predict continued growth in the areas established during the short history of human factors. However, computers and the application of computer technology to just about everything are keeping a lot of ergonomists busy.
This is what sometimes is referred as Cognitive Ergonomics, being perhaps one of the most rapidly growing areas in the Human Factors field. It is hoped that in the future human factors will become more involved and recognized for its contribution to the quality of life and work. Human Factors, for example, could play a greater role in improving the quality of life and work in Industrially Developing Countries (IDCs). However, it is important to recognize that Ergonomics and Human Factors developments in IDCs can not go in hand with the developments that have been taking place in developed countries. The needs in IDCs ought to be different, therefore ergonomic developments and trends should not be seen going through the same development path. In IDCs ergonomics is an essential means of assuring the efficient use of the labor force, and can help to make best use of technological resources through optimizing the application of existing and the new or transferred technology to the benefit of the local user population and the operating environment. Many current problems in IDCs such as high rate of accident and injuries, low productivity and work quality can be improved through ergonomic input.

The Roles of the Machine and the Human:
Controlling machines was not a very significant problem until recently. Technological development resulted in more elaborated controls and higher output, with the consequent need for more accurate interpretation of the information displayed. This made operator's task more complex and demanding and as a result of that, the 'human factor' in such system became increasingly important for making safer and more efficient systems.

Factors to be considered:
1. Accident frequency and severity: jobs where accidents occur frequently or where they occur infrequently but result in disabling injuries.
2. Potential for severe injuries or illnesses.
3. Newly established jobs: due to lack of experience in these jobs, workplace contributing factors may not be evident or anticipated.
4. Modified jobs: new workplace contributing factors may be associated with changes in job procedures.
5. Infrequently performed jobs: workers may be at greater risk when undertaking non-routine jobs, and EWA provides a means of reviewing workplace contributing factors.

Last but not the least

"Good ergonomics is good economy
Happy workforce make a happy bottom line"