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Ergonomics: How It Developed

Modern day ergonomics is a classic example of ancient ideas evolving and finding relevance in a new age. The concept of the relationship between people and their work place and its effect on both the worker and the work, especially injuries sustained to the worker’s body because of the working environment, has been recorded for several centuries. However, in the 20th century ergonomics has become a prominent idea.

The term ‘ergonomics’ it self was coined in 1857 by the author Wojciech Jastrzebowski.
As corporate culture and a new age of industrial revolution gained momentum in the last century, ergonomics steadily gained attention. And it was Frederick W. Taylor who really developed the ergonomics theory into a practical realm by developing tools in factories that matched the work at hand. And like the idea of ergonomics dictated, Frederick W. Taylor managed to not only brings safety levels up but also increased production for the company and helped workers make more money.

But if there was one point in time when interest in ergonomics grew exponentially since Wojciech Jastrzebowski coined the term and Frederick W. Taylor implemented it, it was during the Second World War. At this point, everyone from scholars to industrialists and government agencies started conducting extensive research on various aspects of human and work relationships. Some of these included the relationship between the force that is required from the body’s muscle or exerted on the body to do manual jobs; this means everything from the impact on one’s spine when lifting objects or one’s heart and blood pressure when doing physically intensive work , and just generally how much manual work a person can do .

Ergonomics has come a long way in the last half century though. Today, companies pay special attention to the way in which their offices are furnished and designed and how the machineries in their plants are made or positioned. Even working hours and such fall into the bracket of ergonomics. With such increasing demand for the subject, specialists have also emerged and colleges across the United States and many other countries now offer degrees in it, be it basic or even advanced.

There are also many factories that design and manufacture furniture that are very ergonomic friendly, that is to say that put as little stress on the body when working while using that furniture, be it to sit on, or place the work station such as computer on.  You can even find interior decorators for homes that offer special advices based on ergonomics should one want it.

It sounds simple and quite basic; the relationship between a person’s body and the person’s working condition. In fact it sounds quite obvious too. Still, it has taken a long time for it evolve and finally enter the mainstream. And it continues to dictate how things are done. The only evolution now will be to further implement this concept, which was initially industry oriented, in as many aspects of every day life as possible.

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