er•go•nom•ics (n) er-gä-'nä-miks An applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely — called also human engineering.
Prehistoric ergonomics. Prehistoric man realized that certain pebble tools and scoops made from curved antelope bones made tasks easier.
Word! Wojciech Jastrzebowski created the word ergonomics in 1857 in a philosophical narrative, “based upon the truths drawn from the Science of Nature” (Jastrzebowski, 1857). The word is derived from the Greek ergon (work) and nomos (laws) to denote the science of work.
Ergonomics is goal-oriented. It seeks to 1) Decrease risk of injury/illness; 2) Enhance worker productivity; 3) Improve quality of work life.
Ergonomics' Golden Rule: One size does not fit all. Adjustability is the key to transforming a typical chair into an ergonomic chair. And the chair is just one component of the office system. The person in the chair is another — as well as the stapler, telephone, computer, mouse, keyboard, desk, and other work tools.
The right chair. A chair should have a five-point star base for stability, an adjustable backrest (angle, height, and depth) that provides lumbar support, and an adjustable seat pan (height, forward and backward, and tilt angle). If it has armrests, they should be padded, be adjustable up and down, in and out, and swivel (e.g., like a wrist rest). The edge of the seat pan should be at least four inches from the soft tissue area behind the knee.
Certified, with guidelines. The Board of Certified Professional Ergonomists is the recognized organization dealing with professional certification. Other organizations write ergonomics-related standards and guidelines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the American National Standards Institute, and the International Organization for Standardization are the main ones in the United States.
Perfect posture can be painful. When sitting, gravity's full force is carried by the upper body and can lead to excessive fatigue, resulting in muscle strain and joint pain. This strain is increased when you sit upright and do not use the back of your chair for support.
It's all about you. Someone who deals in the science of ergonomics, called an ergonomist, might ask about your height, weight, ability to handle information and make decisions, ability to see and hear, and ability to work in temperature extremes in order to make your workplace safer, more comfortable, and more productive.
Do you want to get the last word in? Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org