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OSHA's Advantages of Ergonomics
Domains of Specialization
Derived from the Greek ergon (work) and nomos (laws) to denote the science of work, ergonomics is a systems-oriented discipline, which now applies to all aspects of human activity. Practicing ergonomists must have a broad understanding of the full scope of the discipline, taking into account the physical, cognitive, social, organizational, environmental and other relevant factors. Ergonomists often work in particular economic sectors or application domains. These application domains are not mutually exclusive and they evolve constantly. New ones are created; old ones take on new perspectives. Within the discipline, domains of specialization represent deeper competencies in specific human attributes or characteristics of human interaction:
Physical ergonomics is concerned with human anatomical, anthropometric, physiological and biomechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity. The relevant topics include working postures, materials handling, repetitive movements, work-related musculoskeletal disorders, workplace layout, safety and health.
Cognitive ergonomics is concerned with mental processes, such as perception, memory, reasoning, and motor response, as they affect interactions among humans and other elements of a system. The relevant topics include mental workload, decision-making, skilled performance, human-computer interaction, human reliability, work stress and training as these may relate to human-system design.
Organizational ergonomics is concerned with the optimization of sociotechnical systems, including their organizational structures, policies, and processes. The relevant topics include communication, crew resource management, work design, design of working times, teamwork, participatory design, community ergonomics, cooperative work, new work paradigms, organizational culture, virtual organizations, telework, and quality management.
Ergonomics covers all aspects of a job, from the physical stresses it places on joints, muscles, nerves, tendons, bones etc., to environmental factors which can effect hearing, vision, and general comfort and health. Ergonomics is all about designing the job to fit the worker, not forcing the worker to fit the job.
The five main principles of ergonomics are:
There are several ways you can identify an ergonomic problem, from simple observation and common sense through to risk assessment or simple checklists. We recommend several methods are used to cover all eventualities.
If you think you have identified an ergonomic problem there are several things you should do to solve it.