Why design ergonomically?

Ergonomics is the science of human beings and technology. It encompasses the design of products, product details, workplaces and complex work systems against criteria which are determined by human characteristics and abilities. It has the aim of enhancing the well-being of human beings and the performance of the system as a whole. 

The human operator should be the yardstick for the machine rather than having to adapt to it.

Consider everyday examples: cars, kitchens, mobile phones, tablet PCs, airliner seats or lawnmowers. With what products do you, as a user, feel most comfortable? Users appreciate, consciously or unconsciously, the benefits of safe, healthy and comfortable design, and of elegant and user-friendly operation.

User-friendliness is also an important criterion for the purchasing decisions taken by companies, since a machine that is well adapted to its human operator can reduce the physical stress and consequently also absences from work. It can also shorten processing times, making the production process more cost-efficient.

An example of the economic benefits attained by ergonomics: palletizing of containers.
Source: Schultetus, W: Nutzung und Nutzen arbeitswissenschaftlicher Methoden in der Praxis. In: Arbeitswissenschaft – von der Theorie zur Praxis, Wirtschaftsverlag Bachem, Köln, 2006

Besides preventing the negative impacts of illness or injury, ergonomic work equipment can also create a more comfortable and motivating work situation, which in turn enhances competitiveness in a globalized world.

With the increasing importance of topics such as a shortage of skilled labour, demographics and inclusion, it is becoming essential for planning to be thought through, including from the user's perspective – in other words, for planning and design to be ergonomic.