|You have probably
heard the term ergonomics, but what exactly does it mean? Ergonomics
is the study of people and work. Ergonomics looks at how a specific
task, job or equipment fits the person doing the task or using the
equipment, with the goal of increasing efficiency and decreasing physical stress.
The study of how the body adapts
to work has been around since 1713, when Bernardino Ramazinni wrote
about work-related complaints in his book, De Morbis Artificum.
The word ergonomics was first used by Wojciech Jastrzebowski in
1857 in his philosophical narrative, "based upon the truths drawn from Science of Nature." During the Industrial Revolution,
when manufacturing was still dependent on human power/work to perform
tasks, human efficiency was studied with an eye toward improving
productivity. It wasn't until after WWII that the safety of the
worker became as important as improving efficiency.
Today, the word "ergonomic"
is applied to many products, but there are no regulations defining
the term. Further what works for one person may not work for someone
else. Therefore, simply buying a product that is labeled "ergonomic"
will not guarantee that it will either increase your efficiency
or reduce or prevent physical stress. The important thing to remember
in purchasing work tools is to fit the tool to your body and to
the task you must perform.
One of the important elements in ergonomics is keeping your body
in a neutral position. Neutral means that there is no flexion or
extension of joints and your muscles are not engaged. There is less
stress and strain on your body when it is in a neutral position.
For example, a wrist guard may be helpful in performing keyboard
tasks, but only if it places your wrist and forearm in a neutral
position. Therefore, when purchasing a product, analyze the task
you are performing and decide what will aid you in achieving a neutral