What is Ergonomics Design ? Why Ergonomics Is Important

Introduction To Ergonomics :

All products are designed to be used by human beings, thus the size of all such products are based on Anthropometric data. ‘Anthropo’ means human and ‘metrics’ means the measurement, and therefore anthropometric data dictates what the dimensions of a product should be so that it can be easily used by 95 percentile of the human population.

If a product is to be used for long periods of time, repeatedly then ‘shape’ and ‘feel’ of the product becomes as important – if not more – than its size, and this is where ‘Ergonomics’ comes in. Ergonomics is a much more recent field of study as compared to anthropometry but it is gaining more and more importance in all kinds of design these days.

If we take an example of a chair this becomes easier to understand. Chairs are used for various purposes and on the whole the dimensions of a chair do not drastically vary with a change in its usage, overall the dimensions of a dining chair are quite similar to a office chair. But the amount of time that we spend sitting on these chairs has a very big impact on the shape and feel of these chairs. A dining chair is a pretty simple piece of furniture because we spend not more than half an hour to an hour in them at a time, an office chair on the other hand is a very complicated design because we are spending 8 to 10 hours in that chair daily. Therefore, the office chair is much more ergonomically designed, its back is designed to give you maximum support, all ts surfaces are cushioned, you can adjust the heights of its seat and armrests and the tilt of its back support.

Define ergonomics in design

Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them.

Most people have heard of ergonomics and think it is something to do with seating or with the design of car controls and instruments – and it is… but it is so much more. Ergonomics applies to the design of anything that involves people – workspaces, sports and leisure, health and safety.

Ergonomics (or ‘human factors’ as it is referred to in North America) is a branch of science that aims to learn about human abilities and limitations, and then apply this learning to improve people’s interaction with products, systems and environments.

Ergonomically designed workstations
Ergonomically designed workstations

Why is Ergonomics important?

In the workplace: According to Safe Work Australia, the total economic cost of work-related injuries and illnesses is estimated to be $60 billion dollars. Recent research has shown that lower back pain is the world’s most common work-related disability – affecting employees from offices, building sites and in the highest risk category, agriculture.

Ergonomics aims to create safe, comfortable and productive workspaces by bringing human abilities and limitations into the design of a workspace, including the individual’s body size, strength, skill, speed, sensory abilities (vision, hearing), and even attitudes.

In the greater population: The number of people in Australia aged 75 and over is forecast to double over the next 50 years. With this, equipment, services and systems will need to be designed to accommodate the increasing needs of the ageing population, applying to public transport, building facilities, and living spaces.

Ergonomics is mainly classified into 3 parts namely –

Physical Ergonomics – It mainly concerns with human anatomy.

Cognitive Ergonomics – It concerns with mental processes.

Organisational Ergonomics – It concerns with optimization of socio-technical systems.

So while designing any workplace or an equipment or a device, ergonomics needs to be taken into account in order to make the system safer and more efficient because of effective interaction between the other elements of the system and the user.

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