Ergonomics-this is a word that defines issues that affect us every day yet we rarely take the time to truly think about it. Furthermore, ergonomics is something we normally only think about when something is not designed properly. We normally don’t stop and say, “hey! this thing works great and is designed perfectly for me!”, we just happily use it.
Clearly, the above photo does not represent good ergonomics. The reason for the poor ergonomics in the above photo is due to misuse of the space. Let’s take a look at some issues to consider when we design successfully with the considerations of ergonomics. Some of the major issues to consider are proper height of elements, proper reach of spaces, adequate and proper levels of light for each space and the overall ease of use for everyday items.
Perhaps one of the most common areas of research and ergonomics is in the area of our workplace. We spend an average of nine hours a day, five days a week in our office work environments. Many of this time is spent doing very repetitive work.
One huge area is having a proper chair if you are in a seating position for the majority of the workday.
As represnted in the above image, there are many considerations to think about when choosing the right chair.
Other areas of concern include ease of use.The photo below exhibits all of the areas to consider at the workstation. In addition to the issues represented in the photo, we must consider ease of reach. All items that you regularly used must be within arm’s reach of your seated position while at your workstation. The goal is to minimize unnecessary strain caused by repetitive reaching and stretching.
While there are many issues to consider, having proper lighting levels is extremely important in considering ergonomics. The eye muscle is on average, the number one used muscle in our entire bodies. If we are not given the proper lighting levels we will quickly have eye fatigue for over-straining our eye muscles.
As mentioned in the above diagram, we need, on average, five times as much light to view written documents as we do items on a computer. Because of this, we need to have mixed options of lighting levels in our designs. Furthermore, minimization of contrast between these levels is necessary for our overall eye health. If we have too much contrast it makes our eyes strain. Remember a time when you were working on the computer with the lights off in the room-did your eyes quickly become tired? This was due to too much contrast in lighting levels of the space. Furthermore, one should never place his or her computer screen to be opposite of the window. This causes too much glare on the screen and also causes eyestrain. It is best to have computer screens to the side of the window to minimize glare.
Truly, we need consider many elements when designing with ergonomics in mind. In order for an item to be successfully ergonomically designed, we need to consider the ease of use for at least 90% of our population. This often involves having easily adjustable height and levels of our objects. There are many sever risks with continually being in ergonomically poor environments. We can suffer from anything ranging from eye strain, to carpel tunnel syndrome to decreased efficiency. It is imperative to our overall health and well-being to design for successful ergonomic considerations. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to never have to note poorly designed objects again?