If you are asking about what ergonomic principles or ergonomic function are, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will discuss in more depth the principles of ergonomics and their function, as well as why ergonomics is important and how it works.
Ergonomics (or ‘human factors’ as it is called in North America) is a branch of science that aims to learn about human capabilities and limitations, and then apply this learning to improve human interactions with products, systems, and the environment. In other words, ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products, and systems so that they suit the people who use them. In ergonomics, there is the term fitting the task to the person. What this means is that every job must be designed and adapted to the worker's capacity. Apart from that, in terms of utility, the product or craft object must pay attention to its practical value, namely that it can be used according to its function and needs. This concept later became the basis for the development of ergonomics.
10 Ergonomic Principles and Examples
Most people have heard of ergonomics and think it has something to do with seating or with the design of a car's controls and instruments, but ergonomic principles are much more than that.
Ergonomics applies to any design that involves people: work spaces, sports and recreation. In fact, the use of ergonomic principles is an important aspect of occupational safety and health. For example, in the United States, ergonomic injuries such as musculoskeletal disorders cost between $15 and $20 billion per year. The costs are fantastic, even if the injury only requires treatment or time off, it still incurs costs in the form of reduced productivity. For this reason, it is very important to understand ergonomic principles at work. The following are 10 ergonomic principles at work recommended by Dan MacLeod, namely:
1. Work in a normal position or posture
Body posture provides a good starting point for evaluating the work performed. The best position to work in is one that keeps the body "in neutral." For example, keeping the spine in an “S-curve” position because basically the human spine is shaped more or less like the letter "S." It is very important to maintain the “S-curve” shape of the spine both when sitting and standing. The most important part of this “S-curve” is in the lower back. When standing, placing one foot on a footrest helps keep the spine in alignment. Also read: Ergonomic Work Chair: Definition, Benefits and Criteria!
2. Reduce excessive load
Excessive stress on joints can lead to potential fatigue and injury. There are many examples of working conditions that can place excessive stress on the human body.
The main thing you have to do is identify activities that cause excessive stress, then think about appropriate ways to reduce this load.
For example, pulling a heavy cart can put excessive stress on the back. What you can do is make sure that the floor is in good condition, the wheels on the cart are big enough, and the cart has a good handle. Or maybe you can use electricity. Another example of reducing the load is by using a pulley to lift heavy objects.
3. Place equipment so that it is always within reach
The next principle of ergonomics is to ensure that objects are easy to reach. Frequently used equipment or objects should ideally be within full arm's reach.
concept of "reach envelope". This concept is a semicircular shape made by the arm when extending the hand.
Also Read: Ideal Work Desk Height, Here's the Complete Explanation!
4. Work according to the height of the body dimensions
Working at the right height is also a way to make things easier. One rule of thumb is that most work should be done at elbow level, whether sitting or standing.
For example, working with a computer keyboard, you must ensure that the keyboard is at elbow level. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For heavier work, it is best done below elbow height. Precision work or visually intense work is often best done at above elbow height.
5. Reduce repetitive and excessive movements
The next ergonomic principle that you need to pay attention to is the number of movements made throughout the day, whether with your fingers, wrist, arms or back.
For example, to reduce manual repetition is to use electric tools whenever possible, such as replacing a manual saw with an electric saw.
Another approach is to change the equipment layout to eliminate movement. Also Read: 7 Types of Office Chairs and Their Functions
6. Minimize static movement
Holding the same position for a certain period of time is called static load. This creates fatigue and discomfort and can interfere with work.
An example of static load that everyone has experienced is cramping when writing. There is no need to hold the pencil tightly, because over a long time the muscles will get tired and feel sore.
Apart from that, having to stand for a long time can also create static load on the legs. The presence of a footrest allows the worker to change the position of the feet and makes it easier to stand.
7. Minimize load points
Another thing to pay attention to is excessive pressure points.
An example is holding firmly a tool such as pliers. The solution that can be provided is to add a soft handle and shape the handle to fit the worker's hand. Thus, this will make it easier and provide comfort for workers to complete their work.
Also Read: 7 Recommendations for the Best Work Chairs that are Safe for the Body
8. Have sufficient clearance
The work area needs to be arranged so that workers have enough space to work. This includes the head, knees and feet. No one wants to bump into things while working or have to work in changing postures.
For example, equipment and materials must be arranged properly so that nothing obstructs the worker's view.
9. Stretch while working
To be healthy, the human body needs to be exercised and stretched. Muscles need to be exercised and heart rate needs to be increased periodically. Depending on the type of work performed, different on-the-job exercises may be helpful.
For example, if sitting for a long time, workers need to change body posture such as adjusting the chair up and down throughout the day, moving positions, stretching, and changing positions as often as possible.
Also Read: 7 Recommendations for Ergonomic Office Chairs in 2022
10. Create a comfortable work environment
This ergonomic principle covers all aspects related to creating comfort at work. Poor lighting is a common problem in the workplace that can affect workers' comfort levels and performance.
For example, in offices where the majority of work involves computers, lighting is a big problem, because the computer screen can reflect any ambient light. This can cause discomfort at work.
One good way to overcome lighting problems is to use “task lighting” that is, having small lights right in the workplace that can be adjusted to the needs of workers.
In simple terms, ergonomics serves to improve the work space and environment to minimize the risk of injury or danger.
So, as technology changes, so does the need to ensure that the tools we access for work, rest, and play are designed for our bodies' needs. Also read: 10 reasons why ergonomic chairs are very important in the office. Following are some of the functions of ergonomics when applied in the workplace:
1. Improve physical health
One of the main ergonomic functions is increasing the health status of workers in the workplace. Workers can feel direct benefits from implementing ergonomics, such as feeling less tension in the body because the workplace or work station has been adjusted to suit their body posture. Therefore, having an appropriate body posture can prevent eye and neck strain.
2. Improve mental health
Ergonomics has a function to improve the mental health of workers. Not only physical health, mental health also improves when they feel comfortable. A comfortably arranged workplace provides experience and satisfaction. In addition, with the implementation of ergonomics, there will be less anxiety, a better mood, and ultimately you can focus more on work.
3. Increase productivity
The better focused employees are, the higher levels of productivity they can have. Of course, businesses need a high level of productivity to be more successful. Therefore, the functional and usable aspects of your ergonomics can transform your workplace for the better for employees. The better they feel about their work, the more they want to earn.
4. Moral Function
Ergonomics has practical and moral value. When workers know their workplace takes ergonomic principles seriously, it can make them feel highly valued and valued.
5. Improve the quality of work
Implementing poor ergonomics can cause fatigue and frustration in workers. Just imagine, if the tasks given are too excessive and do not suit their physical condition, workers could carry out their work ineffectively. When this happens, it can cause problems with product quality. On the other hand, if work is carried out in accordance with the specifications and abilities of the worker's body, the quality of work can improve.
6. Improve safety
An ergonomic work environment definitely pays attention to employee safety and security when working. Warren's ergonomic work desk, for example, is designed with an aesthetic and sleek design, creating more space between desks. Employees are calm when walking because they don't have to worry about bumping into their co-workers' chairs.
Why is Ergonomics Important?
According to Safe Work Australia, the total costs incurred from work-related injuries and illnesses are estimated at 60 billion Australian dollars or the equivalent of 624 trillion rupiah.
Recent research shows that low back pain is the most common work-related disability in the world. This often affects employees working from offices, building sites, and in the highest risk category, agriculture. Ergonomics is very important because it aims to create a safe, comfortable, and productive workspace by incorporating human abilities and limitations into the workspace design, including individual body size, strength, skills, speed, sensory abilities (vision, hearing, etc.), and even attitude. According to Ministry of Health data taken in 2021: The number of people in Indonesia aged 65 years and over or the elderly has reached 16 million and continues to increase. This number is 5.95% of Indonesia's total population of 270.2 million people. With this, equipment, services and systems need to be designed to accommodate the increasing needs of an aging population, applicable to public transportation, building facilities and living space. Also read: 7 Great Ergonomic Benefits for Work Space Furniture
According to Setyowati, et al (2017) ergonomic elements consist of three, namely:
1. Security (Security)
Safety of product use, namely guarantees about the safety of people using the product.
2. Comfort (Comfortable)
Comfort when the product is used. Items that are comfortable to use can also be called applied items.
Flexibility in product use. A product is an applied or used product, which has a form according to its use or application. Applied products are required to provide ease and flexibility of use so that users do not experience difficulties in using them.
Common Areas of Ergonomic Principles Used
- Safety in transportation: every extraordinary incident or accident (car, train, plane, etc.) leads to a series of analysis, diagnostics and technological or organizational response processes that ultimately improve the safety and comfort conditions of drivers, cabin crew and passengers .
- Competition on the Internet (especially in e-commerce): creating a race / innovation for ergonomics and design of sites and applications.
- Sustainable office environment: which is the main vector of benefits brought by ergonomics in terms of working conditions.