Ergonomics is a scientific discipline concerned with studying the interaction of human beings with their environment. The principle focus of most ergonomic inquiries is to minimize the impact of equipment and user-interfaces on the human body. Machines and devices with poor ergonomic design can yield an increase in repetitive strain injuries and musculoskeletal injuries–injuries which can compound over time to yield long-term disabilities.
While there is evidence of civilizations dating all the way back to Ancient Greece studying tool design and other ergonomic issues, it wasn’t until the 19th century that researchers began to actually monitor and measure worker efficiency with different tools. The first modern inquiries into ergonomics and usability were pioneered in early 20th century aeronautical research labs in order to improve fighter pilot safety and efficiency.
The effects of such early ergonomic research and the research that split off it it can be easily seen around modern offices. Split keyboards, computer mice designed to conform to the natural shape of the human hand, and work stations with highly adjustable surfaces and viewing angles, are all examples of ergonomic research applied in the work place.
- By Jason Fitzpatrick on 12/28/12