Ergonomics, human engineering or human factors engineering is the science of creating products or designing machines which maximize safety, comfort or efficiency of people who use them.
People who work with ergonomics apply general principles of industrial engineering, psychology, anthropometrics, which is the science of human measurement, and even biomechanics to adapt certain designs of products or workplaces to peoples constitution, strengths and limitations.
This science also takes into consideration peoples reactions and the amount of time they need to process a specific task or information received from their environment, as well as the capacity of dealing with certain ...view middle of the document...
Ergonomics are commonly divided into three main domains:
Physical ergonomics usually deals with the field of the human body's reaction to physical or physiological work. Relevant to this field of application is the materials a workers has to work with, the layout at his workstation, the physical demands of his job and different types of risks such as repletion, vibration, forces or awkward and static postures since all of these factors have been determined to cause musculoskeletal disorders known as repetitive strain injury's.
Repetitive strain injury, also called repetitive stress injury, is a group of conditions that comes from the overuse of computers, typewriters and other similar motions or tools. It is considered an overuse syndrome affecting muscles, tendons and nerves in the upper section of the human body.
Medical research points to the fact that these disorders occur when muscles in a certain area are kept tense for very long periods of time, mainly due to poor posture or repetitive motions. These conditions are very common among assembly line and computer workers. Better ergonomics, or limited exposure time to these stressful conditions help preventing these disorders.
Cognitive ergonomics or engineering psychology is and emerging branch of ergonomics that places special emphasis on the mental processes such as perception, attention, and workers cognitive abilities, as well as motor control and memory storage and retrieval, and how they affect a workers interactions among co-workers and the elements of the system.
Important to this specific field is the mental workload of the workers, their vigilance, their ability to make decisions, the human error, the workers performance and training and the human-computer interaction.
Cognitive ergonomics seek to enhance the performance of cognitive tasks by four different interventions:
HCI, human computer interaction by designing human centered machines.
The creation of cognitive artifacts.
Work redesign to manage cognitive workload and increase human reliability.
Ergonomic design in this field require a thorough understanding of the work environment and the limitations of human cognitive factors. Sometimes, the tools or artifacts necessary to realize a certain task carry their own limitations, for instance, navigating through a large amount of GUI (guided user interface) screens.
It is very important to analyze the tools the workers use since many times they co-determine the nature and ability of the user to realize a certain task, this is specially true in control panels, software or expert systems, as they are increasingly sophisticated.
Special emphasis is made on how to design the human machine interfaces so that the cognitive performance of the user is sustained in the work environment, where stress or overload of work may...