What is ergonomics all about?

What is ergonomics all about?

Ergonomics is an increasingly common concept in the workplace; one that affects our everyday lives. An ergonomic workplace can help to prevent poor physical health, increase employee wellbeing and encourage productivity. Through the use of the right furniture and equipment coupled with an understanding of good working positions, it can help to prevent bodily aches and pains. The key to good ergonomics is to take into account physical, mental and social factors and each person's individual situation. But, what does ergonomics even mean?

Ergonomics means a holistic approach

The concept of ergonomics has long been limited to describing the relationship between people and products. This is still a significant aspect, and there are many functional and ergonomic products that make everyday life better, such as chairs for active sitting. But ergonomics has come to include much more than that. It's about a holistic view of the workplace: planning and adapting both the physical environment and the work itself to the staff. The same applies to those who often work from home.


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Take individual differences into account

An ergonomic workplace is adapted to the people who work there, not the other way around. We thrive when our working conditions meet our individual physical and psychological needs. It is essential to consider individual differences in physical strength and size or the ability to handle information, for example. Based on these differences, you can then design and organise tasks, tools and the entire workplace in a more ergonomic way.

Diagram showing how to sit correctly at a desk
Lifting table in a garage
Desk with a light grey, sound absorbent desk screen
Desk lamp next to a laptop
Woman sitting on a Pilates ball at a desk chatting to a colleague

Summary

This article explains the concept of ergonomics. In addition to having an understanding of correct working positions and how ergonomic aids provide support, ergonomics at work is about planning and adapting the work environment and work methods according to individual needs. Good ergonomics require a holistic approach that includes safe lifting techniques, sound ergonomics, light ergonomics, cognitive ergonomics, risks of repetitive strain, the importance of regular and varied movement, and more.

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FAQ

Ergonomics is the study of human body in relation to the surrounding environment, such as the workplace, and the adaptation of the work environment to minimise the risk of strain and injuries to the body.
The office space can be adapted to the user with an adjustable office chair and a height-adjustable desk. There should also be plenty of legroom and a sufficient distance to the computer screen.
You should sit with your back fully supported by your office chair, feet flat on the floor, elbows at 90° on the desktop and the top of the screen in line with your eyes. The most critical thing is to change the sitting position frequently and alternate between sitting and standing.
For sedentary work, it is essential to incorporate movement into the workday in the form of micro-pauses, exercise breaks and lunchtime walks.
Common causes of strain injury in an office environment are repetitive monotonous movements in front of the computer or an unhealthy working position.
The word ergonomics comes from the Greek ergon, which means work, and nomos, which means law or rule.
Unnatural working positions can, in the worst case, lead to strain injuries and chronic musculoskeletal problems.

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