What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ergonomics? For most people, the answer is office chairs. But ergonomic office chairs are only one facet on the tip of the iceberg! Ergonomics is a science that helps align products to users and jobs to workers.
The word ergonomics comes from a combination of two Greek words: ergon, which means “work,” and nomos, which means “natural laws.” Sometimes ergonomics can be referred to as human engineering, biotechnology, or human factors.
Not only does ergonomics cover items that improve working conditions, it also includes how the products you use in your daily life are designed. But ergonomics can refer not only to the way objects are designed, but also the way they are arranged for optimum use.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of ergonomics you may not have considered.
Ergonomics in the Office
Of course, ergonomic office chairs are one way to help keep employees comfortable and safe in the office. Other ergonomic office products include standing desks, keyboard trays, and anti-fatigue mats. There are even ergonomic keyboards and mice that can help better position the wrists and arms for those who use computers all day long.
But it’s also important to take the arrangement of the workstation into consideration. To create an ergonomic workstation, the positioning of a computer monitor, mouse, and keyboard are considered. These should be placed at heights and distances that make them easy to use without having to bend, turn, stretch, or strain.
Ergonomics for the Work Site
One aim of ergonomics is to help reduce accidents and injuries. That’s why you see construction and factory workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) like hard hats, safety glasses, and back belts. Ergonomic tools for these workers are designed to reduce or prevent repetitive stress injuries, awkward gripping positions, excessive bending or stooping, exposure to excessive vibration, and more.
Ergonomic PPE protects workers from injuries and also helps make their jobs easier. For example, an ergonomic glove should fit perfectly, protect the hand, and enhance the wearer’s grip. When ergonomic equipment doesn’t fit right, it can be as dangerous as not using any protective equipment at all.
Ergonomics at Home
You’ve probably seen a zillion mattress commercials. They all talk about how their mattress supports the body while reducing pressure on various areas of the body. This is an example of ergonomics in the home: the designers of these products research how their mattress benefits a variety of sleeping positions. There are even ergonomic pillows designed for different sleep postures!
Ergonomics in the kitchen is another area where comfort and safety are important. From counter height to appliance positioning to knife grips, there are many ergonomic features in your kitchen. The three most common areas in the kitchen—the sink, refrigerator, and stove—are known as the “kitchen work triangle.” Placing these three items reasonably close together creates the ideal work site. And kitchen tools like knives, peelers, can openers, etc., should be easy to grip and comfortable to use.
Designers and architects also use ergonomics in bathroom design, especially when it comes to bathrooms for the disabled or senior citizens. An ergonomic bathroom will have plenty of room to maneuver, and may have grab bars to assist with stability while standing or sitting. Knobs for faucets and bathtubs should be easy to turn, and drawers and cabinets should be easy to open and close. Even the flooring is considered in an ergonomic bathroom: to reduce the risk of falls, the floor should not be too slippery.
Ergonomic products are everywhere. There are ergonomic shoes, ergonomic handbags, and even ergonomic clothing. Ergonomics are deeply taken into account with vehicle design as well. As you can see, even the items discussed here are still just scratching the surface.