Introduction to Ergonomics

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Introduction to Ergonomics R. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Every effort has been made to ensure that the advice and information in this book is true and accurate at the time of going to press.

However, neither the publisher nor the authors can accept any legal responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions that may be made. In revising and updating the text, I have tried to attain three goals. Third, to add new material at the end of every chapter to answer the three questions above. There is a great deal of evidence that ergonomics does work. It really does improve the interactions between people and machines and it really can make systems work better.

How to demonstrate this has been one of the challenges in the process of revision.

Lec 15 Ergonomics in Product Design

Another theme that is pursued throughout the book is that engineering and design are increasingly driven by standards. Probably the best evidence that the value of ergonomics is now recognised is the publication of international standards for ergonomics. These standards are paving the way for a new, quantitative and much more precise form of practice. With this in mind, I have tried to inform the reader about these standards, wherever possible with the rider that this is a textbook, not a design manual.

In keeping with these modern trends, some new essays and exercises have been added to encourage the learning of quantitative skills. Some of the older, perhaps 1 Haynes. Can it work? Does it work? Is it worth it? British Medical Journal, Sep. Preface to the second edition xiii more frivolous, illustrations have been replaced by new drawings illustrating modern research in ergonomics. Restrictions on the length of the book have led to some fairly ruthless editing to make way for new material. Its purpose is to improve the performance of systems by improving human machine interaction.

This makes it easier to use and more resistant to errors that people are known to make. In a manual handling task, we might redesign the interface by adding handles or using lighter or smaller containers to reduce the load on the musculoskeletal system. Work environments can be improved by eliminating vibration and noise and providing better seating, desking, ventilation or lighting, for example. New tasks can be made easier to learn and to perform by designing them so that they resemble tasks or procedures that people are already familiar with.

The focus of ergonomics The focus is on the interaction between the person and the machine and the design of the interface between the two Figure 1. Every time we use a tool or a machine we interact with it via an interface a handle, a steering wheel, a computer keyboard and mouse, etc.

Introduction to ergonomics for healthcare workers.

We get feedback via an interface the dashboard instrumentation in a car, the computer screen, etc. The way this interface is designed dertermines how easily and safely we can use the machine. People interact with machines to turn inputs into outputs. System capacity refers to amount of input that can be processed over time.

Productivity refers to the ratio of outputs to inputs. Introduction 3 When faced with productivity problems, engineers might call for better machines, personnel management might call for better-trained people. Ergonomists call for a better interface and better interaction between the user and the machine — better task design. Human—machine systems A system is a set of elements, the relations between these elements and the boundary around them. Most systems consist of people and machines and perform a function to produce some form of output.

Inputs are received in the form of matter, energy and information. For ergonomics, the human is part of the system and must be fully integrated into it at the design stage. Compatibility — matching demands to capabilities Compatibility between the user and the rest of the system can be achieved at a number of levels.


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Throughout this book we will encounter compatibility at the biomechanical, anatomical, physiological, behavioural and cognitive levels. It is a concept that is common to the application of ergonomics across a wide range of settings and disciplines. In order to achieve compatibility, we need to assess the demands placed by the technological and environmental constraints and weigh them against the capabilities of the users.

The database of modern ergonomics contains much information on the capabilities and characteristics of people and one of the main purposes of this book is to introduce the reader to this information and show how it can be used in practice. Ergonomic entropy Karwowski et al. Humans emit heat, noise, environment. Implications for compliance with carbon dioxide, etc. Machine may exert forces on Physical: Objective measurement of vibrations, the human due to vibration, acceleration, reaction forces of powered machines, noise etc.

Machine surfaces may be excessively and surface temperatures in the workspace. Psychological: Application of grouping principles to design of faceplates, panels and graphic displays. Information load. Compatibility with user expectations. It may cause personnel, facilities management, etc. Many machines require oxygen to operate. Oxygen is usually regarded as unlimited and freely available rather than part of the fuel. Each of the components of a par- ticular work system may interact either directly or indirectly with the others.

For example, the machine may change the state of the environment by emitting noise or heat, for example and this may affect the user. Introduction 5 All work systems have a physical or functional boundary around them that separ- ates them from adjacent systems.

Systems analysis is the name of the discipline that studies the structure and function of work systems and provides the means by which simple systems may be combined to form more complex systems. Systems analysis is an integral part of all advanced work in ergonomics. Application of ergonomics The purpose of ergonomics is to enable a work system to function better by improv- ing the interactions between users and machines. Improved machine performance that increased the psychological or physical stress on workers or damaged the local environment would not constitute improved perform- ance of the total work system or better attainment of its goals.

There are two ways in which ergonomics impacts upon systems design in practice. Firstly, many ergonomists work in research organisations or universities and carry out basic research to discover the characteristics of people that need to be allowed for in design. This research often leads, directly or indirectly, to the drafting of stand- ards, legislation and design guidelines. Secondly, many ergonomists work in a con- sultancy capacity either privately or in an organisation.

They work as part of a design team and contribute their knowledge to the design of the human—machine interac- tions in work systems. This often involves the application of standards guidelines and knowledge to specify particular characteristics of the system.


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Real work systems are hierarchical. This means that the main task is made up of sub-tasks the next level down and is governed by higher-level constraints that mani- fest as style of supervision, type of work organisation, working hours and shiftwork, etc. If we want to optimise a task in practice, we rarely redesign the task itself. We either change or reorganise the elements of the task at the next level down or we change the higher-level variables. For example, to optimise a data entry task we might look at the style of human—computer dialogue that has been chosen.

To optimise the task we can either redesign it from the bottom up e. Having redesigned the task and evaluated the improvements to task performance, we then monitor it over time to detect improvements in system performance. In the ergonomics literature, there is a wealth of information about the physical structure of systems and standards for noise, lighting, seating, climate, etc.

Introduction to Ergonomics by OSHA

There are also information and methods for designing tasks and interactions between people and machines. To use a theatrical analogy, ergonomists are involved in both designing the set and choreographing the performance in the work system. However, many practitioners are called upon to do both types of work and there is now a requirement from the Centre for the Registration of European Ergonomists CREE for prospective members to demon- strate formal education in all areas of ergonomics, even if they only specialise in one area. This is a positive step as it will give the discipline more intellectual coherence and a stronger identity, bringing it into line with professions such as medicine where people only specialise after a basic education in the whole discipline.

Description of human—machine systems Figure 1. Human components The human body is part of the physical world and obeys the same physical laws as other animate and inanimate objects. The goal of ergonomics at this level is to optimise the interaction between the body and its physical surroundings. Ergonomic problems often arise because, although the operator is able to carry out the task, the effort required overloads the sustaining and supportive processes of the body and causes fatigue, injury or errors.

Introduction to Ergonomics & Human Factors Facilities

The effectors The three primary effectors are the hands, the feet and the voice. More generally, the musculoskeletal system and body weight can be regarded as effectors — no purposeful physical activity of the limbs can be carried out without maintenance of the posture of the body and stabilisation of the joints. The senses The senses are the means by which we are made aware of our surround- ings.

Adapted from prEN E. Although vision and hearing may be dealt with separately at an introductory level as they are here , people typically utilise a combination of senses to carry out an activity.


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Vision is often complemented by touch. Central processes In order to carry out work activities, we require energy and infor- mation.

Introduction to Ergonomics

Physiological processes provide energy to the working muscles and dissipate waste products. The brain can be regarded as an information processing centre, that contains low-level programs to control the basic sensori-motor work activities and higher-level cognitive processes that make possible the planning, decision making and problem solving activities of work. The human operator can be thought of both as a user and as a source of energy. Modern approaches model the brain as an information processing system like a computer — an analogy that has some value in directing attention to the types of programs that underlie human information processing, the limitations of the system and the circumstances under which it can break down.

Of particular interest are the implications of this approach for information design. It raises the question of how best to design the information content of jobs to be compatible with the information acquisition and storage characteristics of the human information process- ing system. Although the computer analogy has some value, it is also clear that, in many ways, humans process information quite differently from computers.