Fitting the task to the person is what ergonomics is really about.

Good ergonomics:

  • Shortens learning times
  • Makes the job quicker with less fatigue
  • Improves care of machines
  • Reduces absenteeism
  • Reduces labor turnover and other signs of worker malcontent
  • Meets the requirements of health and safety legislation

Within management services various principles exist; for example,

  • work-place design
  • motion economy
  • rest allowances
  • job satisfaction and
  • environmental control

which have for at least 50 years been taught and applied on a semi-empirical basis, and all of which are orientated around the worker.

Starting with the Industrial Fatigue Research Board in 1919, scientific advances in the study of the human at work have shown that the application of scientific understanding of anatomy, physiology and psychology results in improved productivity, thus ergonomists will have received formal education at degree level in these subjects.

Although they may seek to operate directly on the shop floor or in the office, they will often be naive concerning some of the harder facts of industrial and commercial life and will therefore work much better via the management services department.

On the other hand some people in management services, in their lack of scientific knowledge, try to apply commonsense solutions to ergonomic problems that subsequently backfire on them.

Ergonomic principles are much better described in some books (e.g. Murrell (1965), Grandjean (1969)) than in others. The main snag with many scientific authors is their lack of industrial experience. Conversely many industrial writers have no formal scientific training; their books are merely restatements of what they themselves have read elsewhere.

This section will describe the application of ergonomics within a broad area of the subject. Readers are recommended to consult books listed in the references (in the PDF version) for a full description of ergonomics. There is no point in restating that which will be found better written elsewhere.

It is important for the manager and supervisor to be conscious of the effect that the application of ergonomics has in the average workplace. Ergonomic principles are important in the constant search for productivity improvement. This section will serve as a reminder. Is there a better way? Seek, examine and consult widely with experts, keeping in mind the background information from this section.

Next | Ergonomics and anatomical problems