Nowadays, many of you have already heard about the word ‘ergonomics’ and knows some of the examples that more or less related to it. However, few people really understand what it is, how it develops and applies in the real world. This article will introduce this concept which seems familiar but still may be a little unfamiliar to you. It will only takes you around 5 minutes to learn it. So lets get started!
What is ergonomics
First of all, we need to know what it means. The word ‘ergonomics’ is also known as ‘human factors’. According to the The International Ergonomics Association, ergonomics or human factors is “the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design to optimize human well-being and overall system performance”.
Let’s break down this and paraphrase it in a more understandable way:
Ergonomics is a subject that mainly focuses on studying the interaction between human behavior by using scientific methods . It aims to benefit the living of human being by applying it to the design of human tools (products/devices/equipment). It makes these tools to adjust to the natural form of human body, while our body does not need any active adaptation. All of these designs are based on ergonomics-related theory, principles, data and all kinds of other methods, including psychology, physiology, sociology, biomechanics, engineering, industrial design, visual design, UI&UX design and interaction design.
How ergonomics develops
a. Germination stage
The embryonic stage of ergonomics can be traced back to the late 19th century. At this stage, Ergonomics was also known as empirical ergonomics. During this time People began to use scientific research methods to study the interaction between human capabilities and the tools they used, and started to enter a new era of conscious research on human-computer relationships. The three most famous experiments at that time were muscle fatigue test, shovel operation test and crick laying operation test.
From World War I to World Wall II, ergonomic had gained more attention from people. During that time, women were forced to participate in productive labor because most of the males joined the army. The question of how to avoid work fatigue and improve work efficiency became the main research topic. This research was first established in Britain. The main feature of human-machine relation was machine-centered.
From World War II to the 1960s. with the need of military and aerospace industry, ergonomics shifted from the theme of ‘human adapt to machines’ to ‘machines adapt to human’, that is, weapons, machinery and other designs must adapt to human characteristics on the basis of full research on human psychology, physiology and anatomy so as to reduce fatigue and human error and increase productivity.
d.Modern developing stage
Since 1970s, ergonomics research has penetrated into all fields of human work and life, and has been applied in high-tech fields besides military and aerospace industry which includes home/office appliances, computer science, artificial intelligence, pharmaceutical industry, automotive and other industries.
The application of ergonomics design
As mentioned above, ergonomic has applied in numerous industries. Here I’ll focus on the home/office appliance industry and show some of the specific examples in our daily life:
a.Height adjustable desk
This is a perfect example. Long hours of working at office or home can be really exhausted. While people are working, they often pay too much attention on their jobs, but ignore the problems that sitting such a long time brings to them. Sitting for a long time, or in other word, sedentary lifestyle is not good for people’s health in the long run - your neck, shoulder, vertebra and back will feel painful. Therefore, a height adjustable desk is really necessary. It can can adjust to any height within a fixed range, so you can stand up or sit down whenever you want while working. This will help you relive your body strain and get relaxed not only physically but also emotionally.
More importantly, many height adjustable desks has memory function - it can remember your sitting and standing habits, so you just need to set the height once and it will remember next time. This will help you save a lot of time for a lot of time doing the setup work.
b.Ergonomic office chair
An ergonomic chair will significantly reduce the stress of your waist and make sitting easier on your back. It will provides waist a proper support, keeping your waist as comfortable as possible when leaning against the back of the chair. Besides waist support system, an ergonomic chair also has shoulder support system - it offers back inclination angle from 95-115 degrees which is the most advantageous for human body to sit down. Besides, some ergonomic chairs also have headrest which help to support your head and neck.
When using the mouse, we usually keep our palms down to the top of the mouse, moving the mouse with our thumb and ring fingers to match the palm of the hand, and control the mouse button with the forefinger and middle fingers. This way of using the mouse is so common that we don’t feel anything wrong. Most people do not know that by using the mouse in this way for a long time, it will affect the wrist and wrist tunnel. An ergonomic mouse is designed to be naturally vertical to reduce the pressure and pain caused by hold the wrist in an overturned posture for a long time.
In conclusion, ergonomic designed product help the ‘machines adapt human’ by by adjust to human body features to reduce human errors, improve health conditions and increase productivity. SpassWay is such a brand that aims to offer more and more ergonomic-designed home office products to optimize your well-being when working from home. Check on our web page to learn more information!