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Topic 55: Can the applications of Ergonomics Improve Work Place Health and Safety?

victor.adukwu's picture

Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.


c.ejimuda's picture


Victor has put up an interesting blog. I would like to make a start on this topic. According to the HSE, "Ergonomics is a science concerned with the ‘fit' between people and their work"(HSE, 2007). It aims to find the best fit between people and their job conditions taking into account, the capabilities of the workforce. Effective fits result in high productivity and avoidance of occupational injuries. 

Some work challenges addressed by Ergonomics are as follows:

  • Work environment: Ensuring that it is conducive for carrying out the work. For example, checking the lights, the office temperature, the noise level around the office, etc.
  • Considers the tools/equipment used in carrying out the task. Looking at the size, shape and how suitable it is for the task being carried out.
  • Checking the work done by each employee and how it affects their performance.
  • Manual handling
  • Display screen adjustment

Few ways to identify some ergonomic problems in a workplace are as follows:

  • Carry out an assessment of the work equipment by asking questions about how they can be improved or adjusted.
  • Conduct a face to face talk with workers and take note of their opinions about a particular thing that seems wrong.

I believe ergonomics is very crucial as it totally reflects on how best to improve a worker's well being, and how effective work can be carried in order to avoid severe work related injuries.


Health and Safety Executive.Understanding ergonomics at work. [Online] (2007) Available at: [Accessed 04 December 2012]

Chukwumaijem M Ejimuda MSC Safety and Reliability Engineering.

Uchenna Onyia's picture

Ergonometrics, popularly known as
human factor engineering, is based on the idea that the design of machines and equipment
should match the capabilities of the people who will be the operators.  The design must provide conditions that
enable the people to function at their best. 
Their physical and mental limitations have to be considered; based on
the type of people who will be involved. 
In discussing Ergonometrics in engineering, there are key areas that
need to be emphasized.




Anthropometry refers to the measurement of the human individual. Human beings come in all shapes and
sizes.  This is partly dependent on being
male or female, and ethnic origin; pigmies and Scandinavians are very different.  Designers must take this into account in the
location of hand-operated valves, controls and instruments that need to be
read.  Car designers design cars for use
by any person, anywhere in the world.  As
the driving position cannot be fixed to suit everyone, they have had to resort
to the provision of adjustable seats and adjustable wheel positions.

Humans rely on 5 senses to orient themselves with
their surroundings.  These are sight,
sound, touch and taste.  In riding a
motorcycle the rider sees the road ahead. 
The sound, smell and vibration of the engine and the movement of the
machine on the road are all sensed.  In
plant operations, usually the senses of sight and sound are used.  These signals have to be processed by the
brain, which determines a course of action that results in a physical
movement.  The designer needs to consider
what time the operator needs to go through this process and whether the
operator is able to respond in the time available.  If the operator needs to run a valve which is
out of reach and then has to find a ladder, it is going to take some time.

Psychology.  Human beings, unlike robots, think and have
emotions that affect the way they behave. 
They respond to the work culture in which they find themselves.  Training and education are very important in
condition human behaviour.  Operators
working in hazardous conditions, where year in year out nothing goes wrong,
will be lulled into a false sense of security. 
A new employee, even if given training, will follow the example of
others who have come to belittle the danger.  Another fatal flaw is the assumption that the
supervisor always knows best, or that someone else is responsible.

W Wong, “How Did That Happen”.
Engineering Safety and Reliability.
Professional Engineering Publishing. 2002. Pg 61 - 75 

uchenna onyia 51232632
MSc Subsea Engineering

haroon latif's picture

I would like to add to Victor and Ejimuda comments – Ergonomic application can definitely assist engineering related companies to keep on top of their risk management agenda. Safety and risk management are crucial components and relate to the success or failure of an engineering related project.

Safety, reliability and efficiency are improved within a project when human factors are controlled and guided using ergonomic techniques. For example, ITER – the company responsible for designing and building the world’s first nuclear fusion powered station in Southern France recently appointed a consultancy company called Arcadis to implement safety and risk management services for them, including ‘human factor management’.  Some examples of Arcadis’s tasks (taken from are shown below:

  • Installing an ‘effective alarm strategy’ – where employees recognise the alarm without confusion.
  • Detailed control design room – allow maximum number of staff in the control room to work as efficiency as possible.
  • Signage around the plant – given the various nationalities present at ITER, signs given in French and English.

To summarise, regardless of the technology used or amount of capital invested into a project – the overall outcome is reliant on human factors – and ergonomics is crucial to the success of it.

Ref: Risk management at the world’s largest experimental fusion facility (2012) Accessed 5th December 2012 

Haroon Latif MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

ikenna_ekekwe's picture

I like this blog. Ergonomics as a science, helps to ensure that every task and equipment in the workplace adequately fits every worker's body posture,size and shape. It greatly helps in the fight against work related RSI (Repititive Strain Injury).

RSI's are a form of musculo-skeletal defects in the human body which arise from prolonged repititive and intense use of work equipments without due consideration to ergonomic care. RSI's can be very painful and some examples include tenosynovitis, endema, tendinitis, back ache and carpal tunnel. 

Since some form of RSI's actually require aggressive intervention machanisms like surgery, cheaper preventive mechanisms such as ergonomics are becoming very popular. 

Omololu Oyebola's picture


Good topic to comment about, nice write-up Ejimuda and Haroon. Safety starts from ourselves, and keeping oneself safe at the office involves understanding potential safety and health hazards in our immediate environment. Health risk in work place includes musculo-skeletal disorders, visual fatigue and mental stress can lead to severe health impairments (Safira, Syamsu et al. 2009) due to poor seating posture as a result of chairs used, keyboard distance to body, seating arrangement.

Ergonomics is taken trivially in most organizations, and most employer drive their employees to gruesome targets, forgetting the fact that productivity is affected by how comfortable people are doing the job.  Health at work should be the responsibility of both the company and its employees. The aim of designing a workstation is to promote the ease and performance of a person, productivity will suffer both in quality and quantity if proper ergonomic devices are put in place to reduce stress.

The answer to Victor’s question is an emphatic YES, because no human being ever wants to work in an uncomfortable environment, every one desires a cozy workspace.

The objectives of ergonomics are fourfold and affect the health and safety of a worker (Howard, S 1996),

·         Helps reduce  or totally eliminate hazard exposure of a worker

·         Improvement of system errors

·         Helps improve the usability of a system

·         Helps to improve system efficiency

Ergonomics offers an opportunity to improve by using techniques which break down the traditional barrier between human skills and machines, as such it should be fully implemented by safety governing bodies.


(1) Howard S, M., 1996. Integrating Ergonomics into the Petroleum Business, SPE Health, Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Conference, 9-12 June 1996 1996, 1996 Copyright 1996, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Inc.

(2) Safira, E.A., Syamsu, M. and Darmawan, E., 2009. Making Friends with Your Computer—A Participatory Approach of the Workstation Ergonomics Program, Asia Pacific Health, Safety, Security and Environment Conference, 4-6 August 2009 2009, Society of Petroleum Engineers.



victor.adukwu's picture

Thank you so very much Chukwumaijem and Haroon for your contributions. Ergonomics as a science is concerned with the ‘fit’ between people and their work. It puts people first, taking account of their capabilities and limitations. Ergonomics aims to make sure that task, equipment, information and the environment suit each worker.
Most office related injuries, aches, pains, stresses and probably dissatisfaction of employees is due to ignorance in the application of ergonomic principles. A case study of this can be found in office environment where a receptionist is receiving a call at the same time, typing with her computer. If she continues, there are possibilities of her having either or all of the following work related ergonomics problems aching shoulder and neck, and with sore eyes and tension headache.
Ergonomics should not be compromise in any way in the work environment irrespective of the condition of the environment.


Health and Safety Executives: Understanding Ergonomices at Work

Oghenekevwe Ovbije's picture

Occupational safety which is aimed at reducing injuries, accidents, fatalities and loss of properties depends on the management system and human factor. Management systems must incorporate ergonomic principles that address the safety of the physical and psychological element/aspect of the working environment like Chukwumaijen has listed above.
The human factor serves as the link between the set down principles and achieving a safe working environment. Adequate compliance of such ergonomic principles will reduce potential harm to individuals and creates a safer and more productive work environment. Non compliance of such ergonomic principles creates risk to the health and safety of individuals in the working environment that will eventually affect productivity.

Joan.C.Isichei's picture

I would like to commend victor for raising the issue of Ergonomics as it is often assigned an inconsequential role in many office environments. Ergonomics plays an important role in the work place environment by achieving maximum productivity at minimal cost. It does this by reducing the safety risks arising from workers developing work related illness due to musculoskeletal disorders(MSD), such as aches in the wrists, shoulders and back. 

Ergonomists consider many aspects in evaluating the relationship between individuals and their work. They include (1); 

The job being done and the demands on the worker.

The equipment used (its size, shape, and how appropriate it is for the task).

The information used (how it is presented, accessed, and changed).

The physical environment (temperature, humidity, lighting, noise, vibration). 

The social environment (such as teamwork and supportive management). 

The application of Ergonomics in the work place can significantly affect work place health and safety. Poor ergonomic principles may result in a severe impact on individuals and even whole organizations. For example, between 1999 and 2002, work related MSD compensation claims from the independent electrical contractors(IEC) amounted to $10 million in four years (2). Also, the effect of a good ergonomics practice can be observed from the 90% reduction in musculoskeletal injuries in Textron’s work environment. This was a direct result of Textron’s multi-phase ergonomics initiative[3].






talal slim's picture


Interesting topic and nice information above. I will take a different approach  in this post . Here, i want to highlight a different ergonomic hazard caused by the prolonged use of the smart phones.

As discussed above, one of the constituents of the ergonomic risk is the interaction between the human (us the employees) and the machine (mainly the desktop) at the workplace , and that is what we focus on, but many of us forget this human-machine interaction in our personal life. How many of us (or people we know) spend hours texting, browsing the net, socialising over the new smart phones (blackberries, i-phones......etc) ?

Overusing the blackberyy can create the following ergonomic hazards to the following parts of the human body :

1) thumbs : swelling / inflammation of the tendons leading to potenial RSI if prolonged exposure over time

2) neck: strain on the neck is created from prolonged downward viewing of the keys and screen

3)  eye : strain on the eyes is created from limited focal range of the pupils over a small physical area and hence this can lead to headaches

Reference: safety moment used by Chevron in Aberdeen



Sineenat Kruennumjai's picture

Topic 55: Can the applications of Ergonomics Improve Work Place Health and Safety?

In my point of view, I totally agree that doing ergonomics improve workplace and safety.  Ergonomics are designed from the combination of engineering field, and health medical and health sciences in order to optimize the work environment. The main gold of ergonomics is to identify the hazard that can result in an injury, and then correcting such hazards. There processes are continually awareness and cooperation of responsible groups in order to get the highest effective outcome.  So, ergonomics is not just a quick fix, but it is an ongoing process. If work-related risks are investigated and the ways to mitigate then are awareness, it is no doubt to say that ergonomics can reduce work- related cumulative trauma disorders.  More than reduce the probability of worked-related accidents and errors, ergonomics can also improve productivity (which is the side effect of the reduction of failure).


Posted By
Sineenat Kruennumjai
ID 51126536

t01sik12's picture

Good discussions above. Ergonomics improves our work place , health and safety. Ergonomics is concerned with how our environment interacts with our work, it reduces the risks of injury and illness, enhance productivity, and improve the quality of our work life. We look for ways to improve our relationship between our tools and our jobs. One way to do that is to look at the risk factors in the workplace. These factors can be classified into 3 areas: physical characteristics, environmental characteristics, and workplace hazards. examples of work place hazards are workload, mental stress, physical stress etc.

It is very Important to practice ergonomics in our work place, the main aim is to make sure that your are suitable or fit for the job.





Samuel Kanu

Msc Subsea Engineering

Agba A. Imbuo's picture

Many well-known accidents in the workplace would have been prevented if ergonomics had been considered in designing the jobs people do and the systems within which they worked. To fully understand how ergonomics improve the health and safety at workplace, let us take a look at this case study.
An engineer who works in an engine assembly line in an automobile manufacturing company is required to always constrain his arm and posture while attempting to tight bolt or nut on the engine and also uses the wrong tool for the job. After some time on the job, he is found to develop neck and shoulder pains and this lead to a reduced productivity. An investigation was carried out and was discovered that it was as a result of poor posture, improper tool and poor plant layout. Some modifications were made    

• Plant layout was modified
• Rotation of job with other workers
After a while it was noticed that
• no need to adopt poor  postures;
• reduced boredom and fatigue
• Productivity improved

This example above has been able to demonstrate that failure to observe ergonomics principle lead to serious repercussion not only to the individual but also to organisation. I will like to end my discussing by saying that applying ergonomics to the workplace can help reduce the potential for accidents, injury and ill health and improves performance and productivity.



Richard Milne's picture

Ergonomics is generally based around how people use and interact with equiment. For example, Ergonomics has fashioned the chair I sit in and the desk I sit at.

But what use is Ergonomics for the work force when any future advances (or past advances) are ignored due to cost? Most of us will sit in very basic office chairs, and with careers being so long (at least 40 years in most cases), how can we tell that the basic chair isn't doing us any harm?

In my opinion, although probably not a cost controllers opinion, investing in ergonomics - in terms of work place analysis - is a useful investment. The analysis will mean that the workplace can be optimised for current human behaviour and workspaces can be updated to suit the individual. This could save a lot of money in the long run with so many people having back problems etc from having a funny posture, or their chair in an unsuitable position.

Investing in ergonomics can also take account of evolving human behaviour. For example, lots of people now walk and text at the same time, this can cause many collisions in an office. As can tight corners in a corridor. I have lost track of the number of times I have seen 2 people bump into eachother going round corners.

Ergonomics is therefore a very safety conscious subject, but because all of the incidents caused are minor, or not immediately identifiable, ergonomics gets ignored as an unnecessary expense.

Uchenna Onyia's picture

It has recently been estimated by the Trades
Union Congress (TUC) that over 150,000 people each year suffer symptoms of
repetitive strain injury (RSI) or work related upper limb disorder (WRULD) in
the UK. However, in the past year, only 3,000 people managed to make a
successful case for compensation. For every person who wins compensation for
RSI, another fifty suffer in silence, according to the TUC. Therefore, the
number of workers receiving compensation for RSI is believed to be the tip of
the iceberg, compared with the number actually suffering. According to the TUC,
British business loses £1 billion a year through loss of production and skilled
workers. Most compensation awards include only £2,500 - £7,500 for pain and
suffering in addition to loss of earnings and the cost of future care. The
workers known to be most at risk are those on small assembly lines (for
example, doing rapid packaging or food processing) and those using a keyboard
and/or mouse (such as typists, journalists and office workers).

In a recent Health and Safety Executive study
(quoted by the Labour research department),

it was found that there was a particularly high prevalence of
these disorders among keyboard users.

In the study, almost 55% of the workers had had problems with
RSI at some time, and 49% had experienced symptoms in the past three months.

As well as costing business dearly, RSI or WRULD can affect
individuals' lives causing much pain and disability and could possibly even put
an end to their chosen career.

Much of the suffering and cost is avoidable through good
workplace design, teaching employees how to set up their workstations
correctly, encouraging good working practice, such as regular breaks or periods
of different work, and providing prompt rehabilitation for workers reporting

Moreover, it is now well recognised that factors
such as work rate, a lack of control over the process, tight deadlines and
other factors causing mental stress for operators can also increase the
likelihood of an operator developing RSI or WRULD.



 Reference:    A Pain in Your Workplace? Ergonomic
Problems and Solutions (HSG121), HSE Books Display Screen Equipment Work
(Guidance) (L26), HSE Books


uchenna onyia 51232632
MSc Subsea Engineering

Mohamed H. Metwally's picture

Ergonomics is not only about designing the machinery taking the human body into consideration, but also the developments have reached the extent that it intervene into the organization of the assembly parts on the assembly table so that when the worker repeatedly picks up this or that part, it does not cause aching to his backbone or joints on the long run!!

Elle Allswell David's picture

"Ergonomics is a science concerned with the 'fit' between people and their work"( HSE 2012 ). Ergonomics aims to be sure that the equipment and environment is suitable for each worker. Ergonomics also takes account of human limitation; failure to do this may result in errors, low performance, risk of injury, and tedious work.

The application of Ergonomics reduces the potential for accidents since it ensures the placement of equipment at the right and easy positions for workers to use them comfortably. It also reduces the potential for injuries and ill health; this is because when equipment that is required for a particular job can easily be reached by the worker  without much stress and those that are frequently used are placed closer it reduces the workdone in putting them into operation and with good layouts it reduces stress.

CONCLUSION: The application of Ergonomics improves workplace Health and Safety and above all it improves Performance and Productivity.


Health and Safety Executive 

 Available :

faizakhatri's picture

 Inline with above  commnets of class mates I would like to add some more points . In an organization every ne has a different philosophy for work for example :Employer is concerned with Profitability and Employees can interest in their salary and bonus along with their working environment Employees Work conditions, and satisfaction of a job is directly linked to the  productivity and profitability of the employer. Ergonomics and Occupational health and safety Regulations are the responsibility of both staff and management   which include following:

Health (WH)—problems of workers and try to solve it  such as dissatisfaction with job and any  pain related complaints,headache, fatigue, stress etc.

Work and facility (WF)—problem of workers  such as trainings of workers and motivate them  

Environment (ENV)—problems of workers  such as related to the environment, like  emission, noise , improper light etc.

There was a significant positive correlation among the  safety of the workplace  and job satisfaction of employees towards work in a  long term profitability can achieve. 


Faiza Khatri

M.Sc oil and gas Engineering

Liu Yishan's picture

The goal of Ergonomics is to provide maximum productivity with minimal cost. The application of Ergonomics could highly reduce the health cost to the workers. There are a lot of works that exceed the capabilities of most of the work force. The workers may injure in these tasks. By using Ergonomics principles to design the works, the risk of injury will be reduced. Ergonomics matches the requirements of a job with the capabilities of the worker, which guarantees the health and safety of the workers. It increases the efficient and profit for the companies indirectly. To sum up, Ergonomics should be widely applied in the workplace.


farman oladi's picture

Ergonomics driven from Greek words “
Work Lows “ is a discipline oriented system 
which applies to  all 
human activities .  Three different
specialization covers deeper competencies of human :

Ergonomics : applies to organizational 
policies , processes and structures . The areas of concerned covers
quality management , organizational culture , work program , working time , …

Ergonomics : Human physiological , biomechanical and anatomical abilities are
the main concern in this topic. 

 Cognitive Ergonomics : Interaction effect of humans
and other elements in the system  . Which
includes human reliability, work stress, training , computer interaction ,
mental workload  and Decision making .

Through Ergonomics ,  businesses will prevent hiring injured
workers, prevents musculoskeletal disorders to the workers , it will be  both economical and educational through good  design of the  workplace.   Ergonomics will focus on reducing injuries,
absentees and errors through which it will maximize productivity.

adavis's picture

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to work for a company that understood the importance of ergonomics. I was hired as a process engineer and was given the responsibility to lay-out a portion of a new assembly line.  The company had built a plant in a new location and realized that they would have to train the new work force.  Since the majority of the jobs were for unskilled labor, they realized that they would have to setup a process that could be done by anyone from a young strong 18 year old male to an elderly grandmother.  The work stations had to be designed with ergonomics in mind but more precisely had to be design to adjust to the needs to a range of individuals.  The company brought in ergonomic consultants that trained the engineers in ergonomic principals.  As a mechanical engineer, I have to admit I was a little skeptical about what I viewed as a soft science.  However, as I went through the process and dealt with various employees, I began to realize the importance of designing workstations which are adaptable to the employees.  As a result, we had much happier and more productive employees.  Some of the solutions implemented were difficult and required a large amount of capitol.  However, the vast majority of solutions were simple and inexpensive.  In the end, I believe all of them paid for themselves.

Ike Precious C.'s picture

 Ergonomics is the study of how to adapt the work place to the worker but what we see in some companies/workplaces is the person adapting to the workplace which shouldn't be so.

To a great extent, Good ergonomics will impact safety and in turn the quality of output of any workforce. A sick workforce will alway produce sick thinking hence delivering sick output - this is not the desire of any company.

In as much as tight deadlines frequently occur which will require staff to go beyond their limits this should be checked and controlled. I remember attending a company's safety moment, the presentation illustrated that there had been no workplace accident but the number of slumps in the workplace was becoming very frequent.

In addition to what you all have mentioned, I believe audit of ergonomics of companies should be done at regular intervals because there's always room for improvement with the rapid change in technology by the day.

Also workers should be trained in Body mechanics and should have access to the right tools for the right job. 

Diet and Nutrition is also a part many overlook; for example, one who does heavy duty jobs will need more carbohydrates than average. This should be checked because the proper diet will put the give the worker the proper thinking capacity.


Thank you.


Foivos Theofilopoulos's picture

The importance of ergonomics usually is not realised, in my opinion. Everyone so far in this conversation has mentioned different aspects of ergonomics dealing with health and safety at the workplace. I will concentrate more on the cognitive ergonomics, since I believe that more or less it plays a major role in preventing malpractices and mistakes that will have catastrophic results. Yes, good ergonomics lightens the load of work or the position of the desk/workplace etc, but control rooms and decisions made under stress are what may create new Macondos or Flixboroughs.

When you have people sitting in front of a control interface bombarded by information, it requires innovative and clever design in order to help them filter the stimuli in front of them from less to more important. For example, if you take a look at a modern cockpit, when a problem comes up (say, an engine is losing power or fluid levels are dropping etc) you might have bright lights flashing, a distinct noise etc. However, the control panel gives the operators (the pilots, in this case) the ability to override the alarm and turn it off. This is important, because when you are on an offshore platform and you may have abnormal readings from 10 different sources on the platform you might get confused from lights and sounds indicationg every different source.

Ber_Mar's picture

what my dear collegues wrote, makes my job a bit more dificult. But i
would like to adress an interesting topic, about futursitic view
about safety and reliability. As robitcs moves forward and forward,
exosqueletons have started to be used as a possible eventual future
war tool. Although this is true, i believe that when the oil
companies get a grasp of the possibilities of exosequeletons, workers
from the future will be able to develop and deploy a lot more task
and with greater extent and security while doing so. For example in harsher colder
conditions, or with gravitational aid or prevention of falls, even
mitigation the effect of falls (airbags etc). For example the human body in very
cold water can only sustain itself for a very limited ammount of
time. This time in most cases is not compatible with search and
rescue operations. A well designed exosqueleton, proven all the
ergonomics were in place, could help mantain the worker alive and
easier to locate, saving therefore lifes. It might seem a distant
future, but then again the future is just arround the corner. Please dont crucify me for thinking outside of the bOx

Hani Shobaki's picture

Bernardo it is interesting that you mention airbags. As a horse rider I have encountered a system that works this way. Unlike a common high density foam back protector, this system stay un-inflated and is unobtrusive to the user. However if the rider was to fall, it would inflate in a tenth of a second, providing a cusion across the back and neck of the rider. 

In the offshore industry this system could be implemented in high risk areas. For example for people working outdoors, especially on floating vessels, would be suseptible to falls. To challenge involved however is that activation; when on a horse the simple detachment from the saddle activates a ripcord, inflating the device. This system would not allow much mobility, and would require a different system. Perhaps through the use of accelerometers this could be acieved. Care would need to be taken to avoid unintentional activation.  

Ber_Mar's picture

Actually i was thinking more in a futuristic way, but now you mention dear colleague Hani, this is in fact already possible, by using semi passive-Active mitigation systems. I think i know a similar system than the one you mention, just not quite sure it is the same, but this one applies for Bikes and is worn as a necklace and charged on a USB Stick.

This type of technology could be in fact combined with some working suits, proven its workability and safety in a near future. As for the firing system this video shows clearly how it works and it is by the use of accelerometers. One would just have to adapt them no to inflate with boat accelarations and just body accelarations, so maybe have correlation with the central boat system. But then again this might decrease system speed.  Further discussion from other collegues would be appreciated.




is employed to fulfil the goals of health and safety. According to the
International Ergonomics association, Ergonomics is the scientific discipline
concerned with the understanding of interaction among humans and other elements
of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and
methods to design in order to optimise human well-being and overall system
performance [1].

ergonomics is key in formulating Health and Safety laws in other for them to be
effective. Introducing ergonomics in the work place will definitely reduce the
potential for work related accidents and improve productivity and performance.
Other benefits of ergonomics are improvement in employee morale and job
satisfaction, improved competitiveness in the market place to mention but a


Ryan Grekowicz's picture

My opinion is that ergonomics is important for those activities which are done repeatedly on a daily basis, such as typing.  But I think that sometimes ergonomics can be over emphasized when dealing with tasks that are done less frequently.  I think what is more important is the prevention of injuries through promoting physical fitness.  Employees are going to have to bend over, kneel down, lift objects.... and the best way to accomplish these tasks without injury is to make sure that your muscles are toned and flexible.  I think more emphasis needs to be put back on the worker being physically fit, instead of the worker letting their physical fitness degrade then blame the company when they get injured doing a basic task.  Many companies have implemented healthy living programs to help promote maintaining physical fitness.

Ahmed_Abdelkhalek's picture

Ergonomics is a very interesting subject;

I agree with Richard Milne, most companies praise the
role of ergonomics in decreasing risks related to health and safety and
improving the work environment. But practically most of their efforts are
exerted in only increasing safety and “fast to appear” health issues. Little if
not no effort is exerted to solve ergonomic problems related to health issues
that take long time to appear and work environment issues.

I guess it would be beneficial if a system similar to
ALARP is applied to enforce companies to invest in solving such ergonomic
problems as long as they do not prove that it is economically enviable.

Of course an economic evaluation
needs to be made for the expenditures in the treatment of musculoskeletal and
psychological injuries.

Yaw Akyampon Boakye-Ansah's picture


is a necessary part of working environment. Imagine sitting in a fixed position
for well over 4 hours  twice ina day. Consider walking all day long
between two narrow doorways and a highly heated room. Imagine typing at a
keyboard and not leaving much rest for your arms over the period.

These are some of the few areas
of ergonomics that some of  us may be familiar with. There are very well
documented benefits of applying this concept. Applying ergonomics to the
workplace may

reduces the potential
for accidents;

reduces the potential
for injury and ill health; and

improves performance and

These benefits are documented
in HSE article available online. 

Varying work, changing pace of
work and varying it, periodically changing setting of work can help improve the
mood of workers. A happy and content worker is less likely to pose a risk in
the workplace.

Additionally, ergonomics significantly
impacts on the possibility of occurrence of an accident. Routine works
modules precondition workers to create a simplified path and sometimes try to
avoid the daily rudiments of running through a process cyclically.

Varying workers and getting
them to work in a team can be a highly recommended solution in the ergonomics
process. Added to giving workers exposure to various job functions, the process
of rotating workers also helps workers to not get 'bored' going through the
same process over and again.

In the application of
ergonomics, there is a likelihood that workers will be less likely to get over
and done with a particular procedure they find uncomfortable too quickly and
less safely. This can impact the overall work culture and improve efficiency
while mitigating risks associated with the work.


Yaw A. Boakye-Ansah

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering




Ergonomics is an interesting issue when it comes to health
and safety.

I think the advantages of ergonomics within a office work
place are limited but can make a big difference on productivity and comfort/
health of workers. A correctly positioned chair, key board, screen or even
water fountain can make a large diffenence in an office environment.

From different view the ergonomics of a facility can be used
to improve safety both in the application and non-application.

Making valves, connections, tools, doors, cranes and almost
everything which is to be operated by a worker will be better for used it made agronomical
as possible. The reduced levels of injury due to over straining oneself with a
heavy connection, or from a dropped tool due to its small handle will be

Another way which ergonomics can effect safety is use it in
the opposing manner. If there is a valve, or connection or another part of the
facility which needs to be there but is not to be operated by a worker, or at
least not accidentally, making this part un-ergonomic will deter the worker
from using it. If it was too heavy, big or unreachable this would make the
interaction with a worker very difficult hence reducing chance it will be
operated when not supposed to be.

Any thoughts on the opposing use of ergonomics for safety reasons??




Liam Slaven

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Ojo Oluwayimika Joseph's picture

It is a well-recognized understanding within ergonomics that engineering design is a strongdeterminant of usability and industrial ergonomics. Examples are a production engineerwho designs new workplaces for operators or a civil engineer who specifies materials andchemicals to be used in construction workEngineering design is a strong determinant of workplace ergonomics. A survey among 680 engineersin 20 Danish enterprises indicated that engineers are not aware that they influence the workenvironment of other people. Ergonomics had a low rating among engineers, perhaps because neithermanagement nor safety organizations expressed any expectations in this area. The engineering cultures in enterprises, together with other organizational factors, are suggested to beof greater importance than the professional training. The implications for industrial ergonomistsmight be an acknowledgement of the role as change agent when trying to integrate ergonomics intoengineering. In doing so, they need also to acknowledge that engineers are widely different. They

have different backgrounds and a “sensitivity” to ergonomics depending on their current engineering.

Ojo Oluwayimika Joseph

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