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Ergonomics

  • Ergonomics is a term that was coined by a Polish scientist in the 1850s, but it did not enter the English language until 1950. We will examine the definition of the word ergonomics, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    Ergonomics is the study of how the human body interacts with the work environment and how human abilities and characteristics interact with the work environment, affecting the design of furniture and other equipment as well as procedures and systems of accomplishing tasks. Ergonomics attempts to prevent work related injuries, such as back injuries, particularly to the lower back, cumulative trauma disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome and other work related injuries that may eventually result in disability. A certain action when done once may not result in injury, but the cumulative effects of prolonged or repetitive actions may result in injury to the wrists, low back, etc. Working conditions may be improved through the use of ergonomics and the study of biomechanics in order to improve lumbar support, promote good posture, increase injury prevention and diminish fatigue, strain and discomfort. The correct posture when lifting boxes in a warehouse ensures a safer workplace, reducing the chance of repetitive injury to the worker.   Ergonomic solutions at the office workstation include designing a worker-friendly chair that is easy on the lower back, as well as a keyboard that is friendly to one’s wrist, preventing tingling and numbness in the fingers. Eyestrain may be relieved simply by placing a computer monitor at eye level. The American agency, OSHA, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is very interested in ergonomic assessment in regard to occupational health and occupational safety. OSHA will provide a checklist for a chosen occupation that is helpful when attempting to evaluate the safety and well being of a worker.   Not only does the ergonomist minimize injuries and promote injury prevention, and implement systems that promote health and safety, he also uses his expertise in identifying ways to improve efficiency in workplaces and workstations. Often, the speed of certain tasks may be improved with a few minor adjustments in the workstation.

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    The term ergonomics was coined by Polish scientist Wojciech Jastrzębowski in 1857, though the word did not enter the English language until 1950, introduced by psychologist Hywel Murrell. Murrell began his study of ergonomics during World War II in order to understand the most efficient ways to handle munitions and gunnery in battle. The word ergonomics is derived from the Greek word ergon, meaning work. Human factors is a synonym for ergonomics, and is mostly used in North America. Ergonomics is a noun, the adjective form is ergonomic, the adverb form is ergonomically, one who practices ergonomics is an ergonomist.

    Examples

    She visits people at home to advise them on aids, home modifications and equipment to support everyday activities and she attends workplaces to advise clients on issues relating to ergonomics and occupational health and safety. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

    “Having that shower head in the ceiling, that’s a great natural ergonomic position,” Fisher noted. (The Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    “This is the first NIOSH health hazard evaluation that we’ve done on ergonomics in pharmacies,” said Jessica Ramsey, MS, CPE, NIOSH musculoskeletal health program coordinator and one of the authors of the report. (Pharmacy Today)

    Ergonomics have been a central fabric of the businesses that I run: I co-founded and oversee an ergonomic office furniture company, we employ ergonomics experts, and everyone at every level in our office enjoys ergonomic furniture. (The Huffington Post)


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