Sunday, November 19, 2006

Keeping the pain out of work

A basic overview of the discipline of ergonomics ...

"People are surrounded by a multitude of objects and machines that they interact with every day.

Nearly 20,000 of them, according to Don Norman's The Psychology of Everyday Things. Simple things such as switches, writing instruments, clothes with varying functions and styles, fixtures, bulbs, sockets, screws, furniture, food utensils, watches, scissors, paper clips -- are all examples of products that need ergonomic design.

Then there is a category of machines that has become almost eponymous with the modern day lifestyle -- computers.

Norman makes a calculation that supposes each of these objects takes about a minute to learn. Then we spend 20,000 minutes learning how to use all of them. That is 333 hours, or eight forty-hour weeks. And this does not account for the fact that we are encountering objects and machines, unexpectedly, on a daily basis.

As if understanding and learning to use the objects and machines weren't enough, scientists must also account for the idea that products may not be conducive for human use over the long term. This is where ergonomics weighs in.

According to the International Ergonomics Association, "ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance."

The field is broadly split into physical, cognitive and organizational ergonomics.

Physical and cognitive ergonomics come into play when designing computers and their interfaces for human use. Fields as diverse as industrial engineering, psychology and computer science have to come together to solve problems that arise as a result of Human-Computer Interoperability (HCI)."    (Continued via Technician Online)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Amish Furniture said...

Any place where one can get used good ergonomically designed computer desks and chairs at discounted prices? Been looking for it since really long.

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