Ergonomics and Good Work Habits

Topics: Ergonomics, Repetitive strain injury, Carpal tunnel syndrome Pages: 7 (2690 words) Published: December 4, 2005
Ergonomics is the scientific, interdisciplinary study of individuals and their physical relationship to their environment. Ergonomics can be further defined as "the design of the workplace, equipment, machine, tool, product, environment, and system, taking into consideration human's physical, physiological, biomechanical, and psychological capabilities. Ergonomic design is the application of this body of knowledge to the design of tools, machines, systems, tasks, jobs, and environments for safe, comfortable and effective human use. The term ergonomics is derived from the Greek word ergos meaning "work" and nomos meaning "natural laws of" or "study of." In the United States, the term 'human factors engineering' is often used. Ergonomics is a relatively new branch of science, which was established around 1949, and it relies on research that was carried out in many other older established scientific areas, such as engineering, physiology and psychology. The association between occupations and injuries of body muscles and bones was documented centuries ago. Bernardino Ramazinni (1633-1714) wrote about work-related complaints that he saw in his medical practice in the 1713 supplement to his 1700 publication, "De Morbis Artificum" (Diseases of Workers). Wojciech Jastrzebowski created the word ergonomics in 1857 in a philosophical narrative, "based upon the truths drawn from the Science of Nature". In the early 1900's, the production of industry was still largely dependent on human power/motion and ergonomic concepts were developing to improve worker productivity. Ergonomics developed into a recognized field during the Second World War, when for the first time, technology and the human sciences were systematically applied in a coordinated manner. Physiologists, psychologists, anthropologists, medical doctors, work scientists and engineers, together addressed the problems arising from the operation of complex military equipment. The results of this interdisciplinary approach appeared so promising that the co-operation was pursued after the war, in industry. Interest in the new approach grew rapidly, especially in Europe and the United States, leading to the foundation in the UK of the first ever national ergonomics society in 1949, which is when the term ergonomics' was adopted. This was followed in 1961 by the creation of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA), which at present represents ergonomics societies which are active in over 40 countries or regions, with a total membership of over 15 000 people. Research began in a variety of areas such as: muscle force required to perform manual tasks, compressive low back disk force when lifting, cardiovascular response when performing heavy labor, and perceived maximum load that can be carried, pushed or pulled. Areas of knowledge that involved human behavior and attributes (i.e., decision making process, organization design, and human perception relative to design) became known as cognitive ergonomics or human factors. Areas of knowledge that involved physical aspects of the workplace and human abilities such as force required to lift, vibration and reaches became known as industrial ergonomics or ergonomics. Once it became clear that businesses needed to take into account the human environment factors that faced their employees, it resulted in the discipline of ergonomics. There are many different things in the workplace that add the stress and injuries and they range from heavy lifting to repetitive typing. The world has been faced with an explosion of computer technology. As more and more work, education and recreation involves computers, people need to be aware of the hazards of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), also referred to as Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD) to the hands and arms resulting from the use of computer keyboards and mice. This can be a serious and very painful condition that is far easier to prevent than to cure once contracted. It can occur even in...
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