The study of human factors and ergonomics leads to the design and production of equipment that is healthier for the human body and the human mind. People who choose this area of specialization use a range of disciplines to get results, including industrial design, engineering, psychology and statistics (among many others). Any discipline that assists designers with inventing better office furnishings, home furnishings and devices may be utilized. Ensuring better health, wellness and safety of employees and private citizens is the overarching goal of human factors and ergonomics.
This area of specialization is quite scientific in scope. For example, the study of anatomy may be used to design devices and furnishings that will support lower back health and/or reduce the risk of certain repetitive movement disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. In the digital age, when more and more people are spending many hours sitting still (while using electronic toys of all types), the value of human factors and ergonomics is higher than it’s ever been before. Without ergonomically correct devices and furniture, men, women and children will be more likely to suffer from mental strain, back problems, poor circulation and/or sore muscles.
The International Ergonomics Association
The discipline of human factors and ergonomics is overseen by the International Ergonomics Association. According to this multinational association, ergonomics may be defined as the analysis of interactions between humans and other parts of systems. People who study and perform human factors and ergonomics will use select theories, principles, information and methodology, in order to create beneficial products that support physical and mental health, while also enhancing productivity.
Ergonomics and Health Protection
Safe, supportive and functional products will fulfill the goals of human factors and ergonomics practitioners. Without ergonomic products, long-term health consequences may afflict the population, including disabilities related to musculoskeletal problems. When implementing human factors and ergonomics, designers must create an ideal balance between the human end-user, the furnishing or device, and the efficiency of any task that is likely to be performed while a person is using the furnishing or device.
Human Factors and Ergonomics Products
Products created through the usage of human factors and ergonomics may be more expensive than conventional, non-ergonomic products. However, these days, ergonomic products are entering the mainstream at a more frequent rate, and they are more affordable than they used to be. Ergonomic products are available at all price points, from simple and basic office chairs to mid-range computer keyboards to high-end desks and office accessories.
Stores that carry these products include chain department stores, office furnishing stores, office supply stores, and large home furnishing stores. In fact, nowadays, it’s possible to find examples of human factors and ergonomics at almost any retail outlet that offers devices, furnishings and related accessories.
Human Factors and Ergonomics in Other Fields of Endeavor
Aside from creating products for the masses, practitioners of human factors and ergonomics also play their craft in a range of fields of industry, including aerospace, health care, information technology, transportation, and virtual design. For example, physical ergonomics may be used in the medical field, in order to ensure that a variety of ailments are not exacerbated by usage of the wrong accessories or devices. Fields of industry where workers are particularly prone to muscle strains (and other related injuries) are most likely to employ human factors and ergonomics practitioners.
Aspiring human factors and ergonomics specialists may study in specialized programs, such as engineering programs, or they may master a variety of other disciplines related to the design of ergonomic products. To work for the highest-paying companies and corporations, human factors and ergonomics specialists will need formal degrees from respected universities or colleges. Salaries for human factors and ergonomics practitioners will vary widely, based on who is hiring, and the individual education and experience of each candidate.
As you can see, the study and implementation of human factors and ergonomics is vital to human health and wellness, particularly in the modern age. As this discipline moves forward and technological advances follow suit, there will be a new array of ergonomic products and devices to choose from, all of which will support good health, mental well-being, and higher productivity, at home or in the workplace.
- Ergonomic Chair - Based on the human factors and ergonomics discipline.
- Human Factors and Ergonomics at about.com