Anatomy of ergonomics
Ergonomics is a familiar term to all of us, but what does it actually mean? For many people, ergonomics brings to mind the physical ergonomics of work, regardless of whether the work is in a factory, vehicle, or office.
I understand ergonomics in such a way that the less friction there is between a worker and the work, the better off the worker is. This friction can be eliminated by improving ergonomics. At the same time, occupational safety, well-being at work, and productivity improve. Nowadays, cognitive ergonomics, or so-called brain ergonomics, has become an important sub-area of ergonomics in nearly all occupations. It refers to the capacity of the brain to process the information needed for the work. Memory and learning are central factors in brain ergonomics.
The challenge in traditional physical ergonomics is to find technical solutions for tackling and correcting problems. But many examples at workplaces show that this isn’t enough. Many devices that facilitate work and lessen work loading are left unused, because the personnel have not been instructed how to use them. The work then continues to be done in the old conventional and loading way.
Finally – or actually first of all – one should remember that the groundwork of cognitive as well as physical ergonomics lies in effective leadership and management. Management affects factors that are essential to ergonomics, such as organization of work, personnel resources, and the use of money. Good leadership ensures that cognitive as well as physical ergonomics becomes an inherent part of the work.
We ourselves are increasingly responsible for our own ergonomics. For example, those of us who do a lot of telework, should take a careful look at our own work site. Do both the physical and cognitive ergonomics ensure our safety, health and well-being also in the long run?