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A Guide to Ergonomics - Biomechanics, Environmental and Cognitive Ergonomics

Updated on January 20, 2010

This article serves as a guide to ergonomics discussing biomechanics ergonomics, environmental ergonomics, and cognitive ergonomics with their definition and brief overview. Biomechanics ergonomics is the area of ergonomics that is dedicated to the study of human body from the viewpoint of classical or Newtonian mechanics, and biology, but also based on the overall knowledge of occupational medicine, physiology, anthropometry, and anthropology. Its main objective is the study of the body in order to obtain maximum performance, resolve a disability, or design tasks and activities that most people can perform them without risk of damage or injury. Some of the problems in the biomechanics that have intensified its research are the manual movement of loads, and repetitive microtrauma, or cumulative trauma disorders.

Use of proper ergonomic guidelines helps in prevention of repetitive strain injuries that occur from repetitive motion jobs like working in a factory or industry that involves repetitive manual labor.
Use of proper ergonomic guidelines helps in prevention of repetitive strain injuries that occur from repetitive motion jobs like working in a factory or industry that involves repetitive manual labor.

One area where it is important to involve experts in biomechanics is in the evaluation and redesign of tasks and jobs for people who have suffered injuries or have presented problems for repetitive microtraumas since a person who has been disabled for this such problem should not return to the same job without having being evaluated and getting appropriate modifications. It is very likely that he suffered irreversible damage and will suffer soon. Similarly, it should evaluate the task and the post where the problem appeared as there is a high chance of having the same damage after spending some time in the same repetitive activity.

Ergonomics plays a vital role in workplace safety especially works for the benefit of employee's health and prevents personal injury such as repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome that occurs from repetitive tasks.
Ergonomics plays a vital role in workplace safety especially works for the benefit of employee's health and prevents personal injury such as repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome that occurs from repetitive tasks.

Environmental Ergonomics is the area of ergonomics that deals with the study of the physical conditions surrounding the man and that influence their performance in various activities, such as the thermal environment, noise level, lighting level and vibration. The application of knowledge of ergonomics and environmental design aids in ergonomic job evaluation and modification of workstations according to the ergonomic standards in order to increase performance, safety, and comfort of those working in them.

Environmental ergonomics deals with physical conditions of a worker.
Environmental ergonomics deals with physical conditions of a worker.

Cognitive Ergonomics deals with issues such as the process of reception of signals and information, the ability to process and act upon information obtained, knowledge, and experience. The interaction between humans and machines or systems are dependent on information exchange in both directions between the operator and the system as the operator controls the actions of the system or machine through the information you enter and actions done on this, but they also must consider that the system feeds on certain information to the user by means of signals to indicate the status of the process or system conditions.

Cognition
Cognition

The study of problems of signal reception and interpretation became important during World War II, the time when computers were developed more complex compared to those known so far. This area of ergonomics has wide application in the design and evaluation of software, control panels, and materials.

Computers looked like this at the time of World War II
Computers looked like this at the time of World War II

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    • Greg Palmer profile image

      Greg Palmer 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for the overview of the three types of ergonomics. A strong focus on how we locate and interact with our tools on the job, from industrial clamps to industrial hand wheels, can really boost productivity and decrease injuries.

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Hi Veronica, you are a great person as you are able to understand the true cause behind the research in the field of ergonomics. With applying ergonomics at workplace, of course, the life of workers and even employers becomes really easy and comfortable. Also ergonomics provide safety and security.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      It makes sense to put such intensive reasearch in an area that will make our workplaces much easier on our minds and bodies. Thank you for sharing this with us Sonni.

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