Ergonomics

1. What is Ergonomics?

1.1 Ergonomics is the study of Human Factors Engineering

The term is derived from the Greek: Argo = labor and Nomos = law

Ergonomics is the study of the influence of the environment on productivity in the workplace; the evaluation and improvement of the interface between the individual and their work environment by correlating work conditions, instrumentation and tasks with the natural functioning of the individual in relation to their physical, mental and physiological fitness, so as to improve their convenience, health and efficiency at work.

Ergonomics implements theory, principles, data and the methods for designing the work stations and the environment, developing products, systems, tasks and assignments, so as to assure their compatibility and accessibility to users, in accordance with their capabilities, limitations and needs (compatibility 0f the environment to the individual and not the worker to the workplace).

Frequently, due to the ability of our body to adjust, we tend to fit ourselves to our environment rather than adjust the environment to us. With time, this might lead to accumulating physical trauma that will eventually manifest itself in pain and possible damage to the bones, muscles and nerve system in various places of the human body.

1.2 Accumulated Physical Trauma

Respective strain injury is defined as health disorders related to accumulating bio mechanical strains due to exposure to ergonomic risk factors in the work environment. Respective strain injuries (RSI) are most common at work, for instance: carpal tunnel syndrome: (CTS), a damage potentially caused to the median nerve of the wrist, which might impair the functioning of the hand and cause inflammation of the sinew (Tendonitis), muscular, neural and skeletal injury (MSD Musculoskeletal Disorders) of the lower back, neck, shoulders, etc.

1.3 Risk Factors

These are physical risk factors such as improper posture at work, mechanical pressure, the extent of repetitiveness in motion, lack of movement and environmental risk factors such as light source, climate or noise. Exposure to these risk factors for an extended period of time may result in accumulating physical injuries.

1.4 Work Station Evaluation

Evaluation or review of the work station using an ergonomic labeling list aids in reducing ergonomic risk factors and potential physical injuries.

2. Ergonomic Principles for Appropriate Working Environments

2.1 Ergonomics in the Office

2.1.1. Sitting in front of the Computer

Correct sitting posture

2.1.2. Movements to be avoided so as to prevent accumulated physical trauma

2.1.3. Principles of Proper Sitting

Illustrations of proper and improper sitting positions:
Guidelines for Proper Sitting
Advisable accessibility ranges working with the computer:
Accessibility ranges

2.2 Ergonomics in the Laboratory

2.2.1. Sitting/Standing

2.2.2. Lifting and carrying

2.2.3. Working with pipetors

2.2.4. Movements to be avoided so as to prevent accumulated physical trauma