Ergonomics – Art of Making Work

Urban Vaastu will be starting a series of articles on Ergonomics every month. Long neglected in our country we are creating awareness of the role ergonomics plays in our lives. We intend to analyze the importance of ergonomics to the way we live and work. In holistic sense, it applies to kitchen, bedroom, drawing room or any segment of our life. What is important is how optimally we utilize our surroundings be it workplace or household conforming to our physical capacities so that ergonomics makes our lives better. Put it simply ergonomics means “study of work”.

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As a science it is the art of designing making sure the job fits the worker instead of forcing the worker to fit the job. It also requires adaptation such as designing right tools and equipment and right task to reduce physical stress of workers and eliminating potentially serious, disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

As a comprehensive concept, it relates to physiology, biomechanics, psychology, anthropometry, industrial hygiene, and kinesiology. Ergonomics at workplace not only increases productivity it also improves health and safety of workers, rewards higher job satisfaction and better compliance with government regulations. Naturally principles of ergonomics are what well-being of workers is all about.

Anthropometry, part of ergonomics, deals with measurement of height such as elbow-wrist length of human beings to working conditions. Interestingly, factors which affect anthropometric measurements include gender, ethnicity,

growth and development, social class, and occupation, as well as clothing and personal equipment.

Workforce is different in different parts of the world and diversified; therefore, it is important to design the workplace based on the anthropometry of the users.

Let us take the chair on which one sits to do daily chores be it at office or home. What really matters is if the chair has been designed ergonomically. Without comfort and ease of working there is a telling effect on body and work output and if the working hours are long drawn special care needed to keep the pace of the work going. How good a chair can be is based on if it conforms to ergonomic standards.

Any laxity in enforcing ergonomic stands could lead to MSDs which can end up as spinal disorders affecting arms and back. Occupational safety is guaranteed under law and it means avoiding repetitive stress injuries and occupational overexertion syndrome.