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What Does “Ergonomic” Mean?

General Comments September 5th 2012

The phrase ergonomics is a word that has been used in the English language for some time now and derives from the Greek words “ergon” that means work and “nomoi” that means natural laws and it is for this reason that it is applied to the office world. An ergonomist is someone who studies the relationship between the human body and the stresses of working in a work environment.

There for the term office ergonomics applies to equipment within the office, the environment within the office and policies and rules that are designed to ensure the enhancement of a particular office workers comfort.

The increase in the development of technology and the implementation of computers into the working environment, have caused a new set of ergonomic challenges for the ergonomists. Typing and moving the mouse causes repetitive wrist movements that can result in carpal tunnel syndrome and not only this, staring at the computer screen for long periods of time can cause eye strain and in some cases headaches.

Ergonomics extends further than the type of office chair or office desk and the position of your body when using office equipment. It also takes into account the layout and design of your office. For example the debate between cubicle or open plan offices falls within the realm of ergonomics. Cubicle offices were introduced during the 1960s as a way of creating offices without the expense of building fixed walls. Unfortunately cubicles quickly became a means of packing in as many workers into an area as possible and it has only been recently that open plan offices have become the favoured office layout. There are many advantages and disadvantages to both styles of layout, and it is an ergonomists job to evaluate these and try and find a happy medium.

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