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Global Occupational Health$
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Tee L. Guidotti

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195380002

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380002.001.0001

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(p.131) 7 Ergonomics
Global Occupational Health

Veikko Louhevaara

Nina Nevala

Oxford University Press

Ergonomics is a scientific and practical discipline that examines the relationship between human and physical elements of work. This may take the form of how a workplace is designed, what tools are used and how they fit the worker’s capabilities and what physical actions and how much energy the worker has to expend to get the job done. A properly designed workplace and work process leads to greater efficiency, more productivity, fewer injuries, fewer musculoskeletal problems, less fatigue, less spoilage of work product, better quality and more satisfied workers. Fundamentally, ergonomics is about matching the ability of the worker to the demands of the task to be performed. The field takes into account the physical demands of the job, cognitive function (how information about the task is handled in the brain), work organization and the economic and social context of the work. Much of ergonomics is devoted to improving the human-machine interface so that the worker is able to operate equipment efficiently and with minimal strain. Macroergonomics is the ergonomic design of large systems. Participatory ergonomics involves the worker in workplace and task design. Usability refers to how easy it is to use a particular product or device, such as a tool or machine. Much of ergonomics is based on anthropometrics, measuring the dimensions and capacity of the human body, with the objective of helping engineers or designers to create products designed for all users or to create “universal designs” that can accommodate the widest variety of future users.

Keywords:   ergonomics, macro-ergonomics, participatory ergonomics, usability testing, anthropometrics, “universal designs”, musculoskeletal, work organization, cognitive function, human-machine interface

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