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Free Research Paper on Ergonomics

Ergonomics is a study of people and the interaction with the environment in which they work. Studying ergonomics helps to improve an environment so that people can work in comfort using the smallest amount of energy. This is achieved using measurements of movement or space (e.g. Arm length or arm swing)

Two important aspects of ergonomics are anthropometrics an anatomy and movement. Taking these into account when designing should help to produce items, which are easy to use, easy to operate correctly and efficiently.

Research has to be undertaken if ergonomics are to be of use. The research undertaken is carried out on the influence of machinery, equipment design and disposition upon the comfort, health, productivity and production potential of the human operator. In order to be able to fit the person to the work better or to fit the work to the person better. To fit the work to the person more efficiently factors that need to be considered are the design of the workstation and equipment, the comfort of the working environment and the sensible organisation of the work. To better fit the person to the work factors that need to be considered are a rational personnel selection according to individual capabilities (e.g. age, constitution) and the proper instruction and training for the job.

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The objective of ergonomics is to measure stress and to discover how to maximise the particular potential of human operators with the minimum amount of stress. Quite apart from moral obligations, the facts that when production conditions and equipment are designed to reduce stress in the operators then the result is generally higher productivity, greater satisfaction and a smoother pace of work. This is sometimes called humanisation of the work place.

Human Productivity

The productivity of a person depends on his motivation and the way that he copes with stress. How a person copes with stress depends on his capability. Capability depends on education, current health, and fatigue. Fatigue may be due to physical exhaustion or to boredom: both may be relieved by adequate rest periods. Frequent brief rest periods are normally planned and are included, as personal time, in the time established for a given operation.

Loading and Stress

Loading is determined by the physical nature of the work it describes the heaviness of the work. Stress is more to do with the individual response of a person to the loads imposed by a specific work environment.

Stress in a working person is analysed with respect to the loads, which are placed on different bodily functions, from various sources including loading the muscle system, loading the senses and environmental loading.

Evaluation Methods

Ergonomics use three complementary methods for product evaluation-

  1. User trials
  2. Performance tests
  3. Expert appraisal

User trials are similar to the user evaluation methods in that they involve observing people while they are using a product or asking them for their opinions of the product. The methods used however are different.

Performance tests do not actually involve users, but they simulate the use of the product in some way. For instance, as apart of an evaluation of different hood-style hairdryers, the consumers association tested the drying efficiency of each modal by using it to dry a dampened wig, set on a polystyrene head. The drying efficiency was calculated by measuring the rates at which different parts of the wig dried. Performance tests are particularly useful for carrying out long, repetitive or dangerous tests. Long-term wear on chair upholstery can be simulated using machine –operated pads to mimic the body movements of someone getting in and out of a chair.

Expert appraisals are also independent of actual users and they rely on the acquired expertise and knowledge of the evaluator. In the case of a simple object such as a pair of pinking shears, a trained ergonomist would be able to identify the problems with the design and specify a reasonable first draft of a solution without conducting either user trials or performance tests.

However, the most effective approach is usually one that combines expert appraisal with actual product tests. Although tests are more time consuming and expensive to set up, they provide a valuable check on the accuracy of expert opinions and they may help to suggest further improvements.

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