For many people, the word ergonomic is associated primarily with comfy office chairs, the correct labeled “ergonomic”, like kitchenware, backpacks or gardening tools. The word itself comes from the Greek roots ergon (work)and nomos (laws)androughlytranslatesto“th scienceofwork”,focusingonhumanactivity.
The purpose of production ergonomics
It can be assumed that anyone in charge of a production system would want all of its sub-components to function together with as much ease and efficiency as possible. When part of that production system is human, the performance of the system as a whole may vary depending on the daily form of the human workers. Although humans have great potential to bring flexibility, innovation and problem-solving skills to the production system, they are at risk for developing work-related musculo-skeletal disorders (alternately abbreviated MSDs or WMSDs) as a result of physical workthat overloads the human body. Symptoms of such risks include discomfort, pain and recurring
The 23 technical groups of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society as of 2015.
• Aerospace Systems
• Augmented Cognition
• Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making
• Computer Systems
• Environmental Design
• Health Care
• Human Performance Modelling
• Individual Differences in Performance
• Occupational Ergonomics
• Perception and Performance
• Product Design
• Surface Transportation
• System Development
• Test and Evaluation
• Virtual Environments
Injuries, and the consequences of unhealthy loading include suffering, inability to work and high cost for the company (in terms of compensation, productivity losses and replacement of personnel). Also, human mental capacities are dependent on sufficient support, stimulation and opportunities for rest. Without these health factors, confusion, irritation, misinterpretation and serious errors can occur, potentially causing material or personal harm. Finally, the interactions between human workers can at best be a source of support, stimulation and a feeling of identity, but if they are dysfunctional they can also cause demotivation, dissatisfaction and lack of engagement. In other words, the purpose ofproduction ergonomics is to design a workplace that is proactively built to remove the risks of injury, pain, discomfort, demotivation and confusion.
How a company chooses to handle production ergonomics may vary with their size, organizational form, previous history of involving ergonomics expertise, project experiences, access to standards, previous knowledge of methods and tools, and expectations of different stakeholders in the company on the person put in charge of ergonomics. A proactive approach towards production ergonomics is characterized by getting ergonomics knowledge into the early planning stages, seeing ergonomics as a source of long-term cost savings and a high regard for keeping the workforce healthy. A reactive approach, on the other hand, usually leaves ergonomics issues and risks unaddressed until problems start cropping up, such as worker pain, injuries and sick leave. Quite frequently, companies with are active ergonomics approach will try to solve problems with a healthcare service angle, which only serves to take care of the symptoms and not the root cause of the problem, which then remains as arisk to other workers.