The modern history of ergonomics in the western world dates back to the 1940s during world war ii. as a result of the demands of warfare many able-bodied young men were drafted to participate in the war effort leaving their civilian work e.g. In factories at the same time the war effort demanded new military vehicles equipment and instruments giving rise to a new form of industry which needed to produce products at a high pace with high quality and therefore required more manpower. This meant that production on the home front needed to be staffed by the population who remained. the shift included re-training and transferring male workers from civilian businesses to the warfare industry but also called on women the elderly disabled and previously excluded social groups to fill the demand.
Recruitment efforts resulted in a new form of state propagandathat gently challenged societal norms such as by stating that women should becapable of performing assembly jobs as it was not completely differentfrom high-precision housework. As a result of this drastic diversification of the working population industries began investing in physical aids such as new tools and devices for lifting and supporting heavy machinery to enable the presumably weaker workers to carry out assembly jobs at a maximum level of efficiency and productivity. This first shift of the 1940s where industrial attention was focused on the human functioning in a technical system is referred to as the physical generation of ergonomics developments. the focus was on physical characteristics of the human body anthropometry posture health and safety perceptual capabilities and how they affected the design of technology. Scientific and practical developments have since continued in the field of physical ergonomics to the present day with plenty of influence coming from sports medicine emphasizing physical performance and medical monitoring of health using measurement instruments such as electromyography emg to study human muscle use.
About 20 years later in the 1960s scientific developments were made in the area of computers and robotics which presented many new possibilities but were also perceived by some as a threat to the human worker; would robots take over all human jobs would they indeed take over the world while these fears were left hanging science and engineering underwent a change of perspective; instead of looking at how human needs influenced technology the demands of technology on humans were highlighted instead leading to a focus on cognitive psychology mental workload and overload skill cognitive limitations e.g. memory and psychological factors during work. The 1960s brought with them a rapid development of computer interfaces and control rooms.