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The History of Ergonomics

Ergonomics can be defined as a “good fit” between the man and a tool used in order to make something. Of course, this is a very general definition and ergonomics extends to all fields that surround our daily lives. Not only do we see it used in tools but in design and technology as well. It is all about ensuring comfort in our daily activities in order to maximize productivity with a minimum amount of harm and exhaustion to the producer. The history of ergonomics began at about the same time as the humanity, as long as man has been working he has been wanting to do so safely and comfortably.

Earliest History

The first time man started to produce tools was about 10,000 years ago and that was also probably the first time man began to think about making them better and easier to use. The earliest records about “true” ergonomics come from Ancient Greece where mathematicians and physicists started to make models for tools that were easier to use. Being a very dark age in terms of political stability, ergonomics became a principle in weapon production too. Man’s knowledge was not very advanced and the only way in which tools could be tested was by actually using them and seeing the results after a period of time. This changed over time.

Medieval Times

This is the time when humanity started to really consider making better tools and housing as the population was growing rapidly. Plows became more advanced in order to be able to work a larger surface in a shorter period of time. Weapons were designed in order to be easier to hold and to make sure that they are not a danger to the user. Furniture started to be designed in order to be comfortable not just functional and it was around this time that books were published with the sole purpose of making daily items more ergonomic.

Victorian Era

This period of time was all about advancement and science of the world around. People now incorporated utility in every aspect of their life and were working to improve the world. They had developed better comfort standards and now actually had the technological and financial resources to do create new products. Ergonomics also started to be incorporated in teaching and learning methods because teachers and scholars realized that a better approach would bring greater results.

Modern Times

After the industrial revolution, manufacturing methods changed dramatically and man was able to make customized products. People started to incorporate ergonomics in every aspect of their lives in order to have better results with less damage to their bodies. One good example is the way working areas changed. From hot, crowded rooms with minimal resources they were now comfortable areas that guaranteed a healthier environment. After WW II ergonomics had a new trait and this was reduced cardiovascular stress at the work place. This was a very important turning point that guaranteed new and better technologies for all of us and the trend has only grown in the years since.