Ergonomics-what a word! Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely”. Basically it’s making sure things in our everyday lives are designed properly, so they minimize potential hazards caused by poor designs. The consideration of ergonomics is undoubtedly necessary for our everyday lives and should be a top priority of ours when we design.
The list of ways poor design consideration for ergonomics can impact us in infinite. One area that has had a lot of research is ergonomics and the workplace. Since we spend an average of nine hours a day, five days a week in the working environment poor considerations for ergonomic design can be detrimental.
Some of factors that influence ergonomic design are angles of the body in a seated position, pressure of points on joints and back, light levels and comfortable reach zones. Below is an picture that represents some of the elements to consider.
The impact of poor consideration of these, as well as other, ergonomic elements can be very hazardous to our well-being. Some of the effects include increase chances of suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome, decreased eye sight, cramps in our joints, strain from overworking certain muscles and joints, and decreased blood-flow circulation. Work productivity also decreases when we are in environments that are not designed for proper ergonomics.
One other important thing to consider is the lighting levels in the space. I actually did not even think of this as an ergonomic design issue, but it truly is. Our eye muscles are the most used muscles in our entire body. We use our eyes in every situation throughout our entire day. Poor considerations for lighting causes very negative short and long-term effects. It is recommended that we use mixed levels of lighting in our environments. This allows for multiple options for each user depending on his or her preferences and physical needs. We also don’t want to have a direct light on our computer screen. In addition, we want to make sure that the contrast of light levels is as minimal as possible. One common place for this to be an issue is our computer screens. We need to keep the contrast between the brightness of the screen and the light levels of the room to least contrast as possible. If this is not considered, our eyes will quickly become tired because of the strain your eye muscles are experiencing. Furthermore, long-term strain on the eye muscles can cause eye damage and decreased sight.
We need to consider ergonomics in our designs and our everyday lives. We need to consider how people use all aspects of the space. The need to be conscious of all areas from designing for proper ergonomics in the workforce to making sure a vegetable peeler is properly designed for a human hand is very important. Surely, the failure to consider these issues in our designs will cause detrimental results to the users.