Do you ever wonder what the term ergonomics actually means? Many of us have heard of the word but may not know what it really stands for. Ergonomics is an important concept in the design of products and workplaces that helps to reduce physical stress and increase efficiency and productivity. This blog post will demystify the concept of ergonomics and provide you with an overview of what it means and how it can help you. We'll discuss the history of ergonomics, its key principles, and how you can use it to make your work and living space more comfortable.


The definition of ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of designing and arranging the objects we use in a way that is most comfortable, efficient and safe for the human body. The aim of ergonomics is to improve human productivity while reducing discomfort and the risk of injury.

When we talk about ergonomics, we usually refer to the objects we use every day, such as chairs, desks, and computer mice. But ergonomics is not just about furniture and equipment. It is also about how we move and interact with our surroundings.

For example, ergonomic principles can be applied to the layout of a factory floor or a kitchen to make it more efficient for workers. It can also be used to design a vehicle dashboard so that it is easier to use and understand for the driver.

The word “ergonomics” comes from the Greek words “ergon” (work) and “nomos” (laws). The concept of ergonomics dates back to the time of Ancient Greece when Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, observed the impact of a person's posture on their health and wellbeing.

Today, ergonomics has become an important field of study and research, with a focus on improving people's lives at work, at home, and in all areas of life. The ultimate goal of ergonomics is to make sure that our tools and environments work with us, not against us.


The benefits of ergonomics

Ergonomics is not just a buzzword, it has tangible benefits that can significantly improve one's health, productivity, and overall well-being. Some of the key benefits of ergonomics are:

1. Reduces physical strain: An ergonomic workspace is designed to minimize physical strain on the body. Proper posture, adjustable desks and chairs, and equipment that fits your body can reduce muscle fatigue and discomfort.

2. Improves productivity: When you're comfortable and free of pain, you're more productive. With an ergonomic workspace, you can focus on your work and not on your discomfort.

3. Decreases injury risk: Ergonomics aims to eliminate potential risks for injury by improving the workspace design. It helps prevent repetitive strain injuries and musculoskeletal disorders.

4. Boosts mental health: Physical discomfort and pain can affect one's mental health. With an ergonomic workspace, you'll experience less discomfort, and you'll be able to focus better and feel more energized.

5. Enhances employee satisfaction: A well-designed ergonomic workspace shows that the employer cares about their employee's health and well-being. It fosters a positive workplace culture and leads to employee satisfaction and retention.

Overall, ergonomics is an essential aspect of workplace design that aims to improve both physical and mental health. A well-designed ergonomic workspace benefits not only the employee but also the employer. It improves productivity, reduces injury risk, and fosters a positive workplace culture, leading to increased employee satisfaction.


The history of ergonomics

Ergonomics, also known as human factors, has been a part of our lives for centuries. It began with the early studies of physical human factors in the Industrial Revolution when engineers began to look at ways to increase efficiency in factories.

One of the pioneers in the field of ergonomics was Frederick Winslow Taylor, an American mechanical engineer who is considered the father of scientific management. He studied workers' movements to create efficient work processes and improve their work environment.

During World War II, ergonomics became more prevalent as soldiers were sent to war with ill-fitting gear that caused physical discomfort and injury. As a result, military scientists started to look at ergonomics to design gear that fit soldiers' bodies more comfortably and allowed them to move more efficiently.

The 1950s and 1960s saw the development of computer technology, and with it, a new focus on office ergonomics. The goal was to improve the safety and comfort of office workers, leading to the creation of ergonomic furniture, such as chairs and desks that could be adjusted to fit different body types.

Today, ergonomics is essential to our everyday lives, particularly as we spend more time sitting in front of computers. The development of ergonomics has helped reduce workplace injuries, prevent musculoskeletal disorders, and increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace. As technology continues to advance, ergonomics will play an increasingly important role in creating safe, comfortable, and efficient work environments.


How to create an ergonomic workspace

When it comes to creating an ergonomic workspace, there are several things to keep in mind. The main goal is to design a space that is comfortable, efficient, and reduces the risk of injuries or strains.

1. Adjust your chair: One of the most important aspects of an ergonomic workspace is having a chair that supports your body. Ensure your chair is adjusted to the correct height so that your feet are flat on the floor and your thighs are parallel to the ground. You should also adjust the backrest to support your lower back.

2. Adjust your desk: Your desk should be at a height that allows you to comfortably reach your keyboard and mouse without having to strain your arms or shoulders. If your desk is too high or too low, consider using a keyboard tray to bring your keyboard closer to you.

3. Monitor placement: The placement of your monitor is crucial for reducing eye strain and neck pain. Position your monitor directly in front of you at arm's length. The top of the monitor should be at eye level, or slightly below.

4. Lighting: Adequate lighting is important to prevent eye strain and headaches. Avoid glare from windows or overhead lights by positioning your monitor perpendicular to windows and using adjustable lighting to minimize glare.

5. Posture: Finally, it's important to maintain good posture throughout the day. Keep your shoulders relaxed, and your arms close to your body. Sit back in your chair with your feet flat on the ground, and avoid leaning forward or slouching.

By making these adjustments to your workspace, you can reduce the risk of injury and create a comfortable, productive environment. Remember, ergonomics is about creating a workspace that works for you and your body.


The importance of ergonomics in the digital age

As we rely more on technology for our work and daily activities, the need for ergonomic practices has become even more crucial. Spending hours on end in front of a computer screen can cause various physical strains, including eye fatigue, back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Incorporating ergonomic principles into our digital routine can help prevent these issues. For instance, using a stand or an adjustable monitor can ensure that our eyes are at the appropriate level, reducing eye strain and fatigue. Ergonomic chairs can help us maintain a healthy posture and reduce the likelihood of developing back pain or other musculoskeletal disorders.

In addition to hardware, it's important to consider the software and our digital behaviors. Taking breaks, adjusting the screen's brightness, and using larger font sizes can help prevent eye strain. Proper typing techniques and using ergonomic keyboards and mice can reduce the risk of developing repetitive strain injuries.

Not only can ergonomic practices reduce physical strains, but they can also increase productivity and improve job satisfaction. Studies have shown that implementing ergonomic measures in the workplace can decrease the number of sick days taken by employees, reduce the likelihood of work-related injuries, and improve overall job satisfaction.

In today's digital age, where many of us spend the majority of our workdays sitting in front of a computer, it's more important than ever to prioritize ergonomics. By making small changes to our workstations and digital routines, we can reduce physical strains, improve productivity, and lead healthier, happier lives.

May 25, 2023 — Tim Scott