Ergonomics, the Science of Work
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Ergonomics, the Science of Work

Ergonomics is science of work, the law or rules about work or work-related.

Ergonomics is a term derived from Greek. Ergonomics consists of two syllables, namely: 'ergon' meaning 'work' and 'nomos' meaning 'laws or rules'. From these two syllables, it can be deduced that ergonomics is "the law or rules about work or work-related." In short, ergonomics is the science of work.

What is the definition of ‘work’?

Here will be mentioned two kinds of definitions of work:

  1. Work is something issued by a person as a profession, deliberately done to generate revenue.
  2. Work is the energy expenditure for activities required by someone to achieve certain goals.

The definition of work at no.1 is definition of the most widely understood because most people 'work' to get 'income'. But how to the people who work but not to earn income? For example, volunteers who work without salary. In this case, definition no.2 can be said to be more precise. By definition no.2, people work to achieve certain goals, these goals are not limited to earn money either directly or indirectly, but also to achieve other objectives such as for personal satisfaction, social objectives and so on. There are three human orientations in the work (Benneth):

  • Economic orientation (Instrumental): workers view the work from the point of money raised.
  • Social Orientation (Relational): work as a social environment dominated by interpersonal relations / personal loyalty.
  • Psychological orientation (Personal): workers develop themselves and meet the needs of the work performed.

So the purpose or motivation of people in work can cover all orientations at the top or only partially.

Why ergonomics much studied in industrial engineering?

Work can be done anywhere. But because most people work with earnings or the economy as his main motivation is mostly found in places of work / activity for economic purposes, the place is an industry, can be industrial goods / products such as factories, mines, etc., or may be a service industry such as insurance, banks, etc. Therefore the majority of ergonomics found in industrial environments and studied in the industrial engineering. In addition, because the types of work in industry of goods / products (non-service) such as manufacturing and mining are more then the most widely discussed work in ergonomics is work in that industry. There are 3 main goals of ergonomics; safety, health, and productivity. The last goal is similar with other field in industrial engineering. It is related to efficiency of the production system.

Is ergonomics has widened beyond the 'work'?

Most ordinary people hear the term ergonomics in product design, especially non-food & beverage products such as ergonomic motorcycle, ergonomic keyboard, etc. so there is some question whether the ergonomics are dilated from the core science of ergonomics of 'work' to the core sciences such as 'product design'? It should be reminded that ergonomics is the science of work. And the definition of work already mentioned, it is energy expenditure for activities required by someone to achieve certain goals. The term 'product' is used by manufacturers as a result of their work. But after the 'product' arrived in the consumer’s hands, the 'product' will change its status to a 'tool', what tool? Tool for the activities required by someone to achieve certain goals, in other words 'tool' is ‘work equipment’ for the consumer. So 'product design' can be spelled the same as 'work equipment design' and it is part of ergonomics. So the conclusion that ergonomics is not 'widen everywhere' except that the term 'work' has a broad scope and definition.

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