A weblog dedicated to Ergonomics education, dicussion and debate. This emerging field has the power to transform industry, business and the lives of ordinary people for the better. The Industrial Athlete intends to encourage and document our profession's vision of an ergonomically-friendly future!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Definition of Ergonomics, And Why We Need To Be Aware Of Ergo Charlatans

Out of all the questions faced by ergonomics professionals, the one that is posed the most reflects the lack of mainstream exposure that our profession has gotten. That question of course, is what the heck is ergonomics anyway?

Taken literally, ergonomics means "work laws", derived from the Greek term ergo nomos.

Applied practically, it means the study of interactions between humans and the work systems they use everyday. Based on these observations, measures are undertaken in an effort to improve the usability and safety of these work systems, thereby reducing injuries, fatalities and material waste, as well as increasing worker productivity.

These days, ergonomics is starting to become better known in pop culture, through "ergonomically-designed" snow shovels or garden tools. Vigilance must be undertaken by all ergonomics professionals on this point, as failing to point out unwarranted claims of ergonomic compliance by opportunistic marketers will cheapen the "ergo" brand as a whole, which will make it harder to sell our profession as an immensely useful part of the scientific & engineering community.


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