The International Ergonomics Association states that there are three broad areas of ergonomics:
- physical workplace
Physical workplace ergonomics
This revolves around matching workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population. Ergonomics is an approach or solution to deal with a number of problems, and these can include work-related musculo-skeletal disorders.
At its core, workplace ergonomics is fundamentally about building a better workplace. When jobs are designed to match people's capabilities, it results not only in better work being achieved but also in a better experience for the person carrying it out. On that basis, ergonomics creates value in many different areas. In short, it’s good for your people and good for your business.
The benefits of ergonomics include:
- Lower costs
- Higher productivity
- Better product quality
- Improved employee engagement
- Better safety culture
Focusing on ergonomics improvement helps you identify ergonomic hazards and puts in place engineering and administrative control measures to reduce risk factors on a quantifiable basis.
Ergonomics analysis should follow a specific process:
- Risk assessment: Conducting an ergonomic assessment is a basic element of the ergonomics process. Ergonomic improvement will struggle to get off the ground if you're unable to carry out effective assessments of jobs in your workplace for musculo-skeletal disorder (MSD) risk factors.
- Planned improvements: The key goal of the ergonomics process is to change areas of your workplace in order to reduce risk. Making large-scale changes requires significant planning such as prioritising which job roles to improve, identifying effective ideas for improvement and costing out those improvement projects.
- Measured progress: It's critical to measure progress in any successful continuous improvement process. High-performing ergonomics programmes are constantly measured using both leading and lagging indicators.
- Scaled solutions: By establishing a common set of tools to train your workforce, assess risk, plan improvements, measure progress and design new work processes, you’ll be able to scale ergonomics best practices throughout your operation.
Cognitive ergonomics addresses mental processes, including perception, memory, reasoning and motor response, as they affect interactions between humans and other elements of a system. Relevant topics in this area can include:
- mental workload
- skilled performance
- human-computer interaction
- human reliability
- work stress training
Organisational ergonomics is concerned with optimising socio-technical systems, and this can include organisational structures, policies and processes. Relevant sections here include:
- resource management
- work design
- working times
- participatory design
- community ergonomics
- co-operative working
- new work paradigms
- virtual organisations
- quality management
At the heart of successful ergonomics is the premise that the definition of work is: 'an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result'. That potentially covers everything we do in the working environment, given that ergonomics is about designing the working environment to optimise human well-being and overall system performance. Taking that into account, it's clear that ergonomics plays a major factor in our lives – at work, at home and everywhere in between.
At Alexander Green we are vastly experienced in workplace ergonomics and effective office design, so why not call us on 01763 500115 or complete our enquiry form to arrange an initial discussion?