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Developments and Changes in Our Understanding of Ergonomics

The world around us is moving and developing with a speed that has never been seen before. New rules for safety and quality of the workplace and home come in every year in order to make the overall life around us better and safer. Ergonomics have always been on our side when it comes to making and designing better products for our work and home. But if we look back, we see that our perspective has dramatically changed from the beginning of the history of ergonomics. From what was a simple concept has now grown into an entire field of study.

First Records

The first records of ergonomics come from the ancient cultures. This is the place where physicists and mathematicians first started to wonder how to make better tools for farmers and better weapons for soldiers. The understanding of ergonomics was very basic back then and the center of attention was production and efficiency, not the worker or the soldier. This view was due to the fact that the segregation of social classes was very big back then and the safety of the workers was definitely not a priority. So, while the idea existed, it was not in use to a large extent.

There was some slight development in terms of safety due to the fact that the nobles needed to have functional workers in order to gain wealth. But overall, the purpose of ergonomics was just to increase productivity, no matter if we are speaking about the farms, the workshops or about the war.

The earliest days of the industrial era are known as some of the darkest days for the average worker, especially if we keep in mind the factories. The conditions were very poor and the safety measures for the machines used in factories were basically non-existent. But after the big factories started to get organized and special committees for workers were formed things changed. The owners of the factories realized that productivity can be truly achieved when the workers have a good environment to work in and that the number of injuries is kept at minimum. Some special regulations about the ergonomics of the work place started to appear and this was a turning point in the development of this methodology. As understanding in how to apply ergonomics to the work force grew, so did the safety and comfort of employees.

Modern Use

During more modern times ergonomics have become a very important part of our life. Every factory or business has to follow some very strict rules in order to be legal and be able to function. Ergonomics is mainly about protecting the worker, no matter the field, from injuries and increased stress. This is the only way in which we can have a good balance between productivity and the amount of injuries, accidents or even stress. We can say that now we finally use ergonomics in its essence as a science designed by the people for the people. The norms are getting stricter for our own good and safety.