Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with understanding the interactions between humans and other elements of a system. It is focused on optimizing human well-being and overall system performance. It aims to satisfy health and safety goals and maximize productivity.
Ergonomics is concerned with the comfort between the user, equipment, the function, and the environment. It takes into account the user's capabilities and limitations in completing a task, the activity being completed, the equipment used (size, shape, appropriateness), and how they fit into the environment. Comfort is one of the greatest aspects of a design’s effectiveness. If it is uncomfortable, it won’t be used, or it may cause unnecessary injuries like repetitive strain injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders, which can develop over time and lead to long term disability.
Effectiveness is equally important to the discipline of ergonomics. Efficiency is simply making something easier to do. Efficiency may mean reducing the strength required to complete a process, reducing the number of steps required, reducing the number of parts in a piece of equipment, or reducing the amount of training needed, which makes a process more intuitive and qualifies more people to complete the task.1
Ergonomics draws on many disciplines in its study of humans and their environments, including anthropometry, biomechanics, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, industrial design, information design, kinesiology, physiology, and psychology.2
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1. About.com. (n.d.) Ergonomics. Retrieved from http://ergonomics.about.com/od/ergonomicbasics/a/ergo101.htm
2. Human Factors and Ergonomics. (n.d.) Retrieved February 8, 2014 from Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_factors_and_ergonomics