Ergonomics (Human Engineering) in Production and Operation Management

The word ‘Ergonomics’ has its origin in two Greek words Ergon meaning laws. So it is the study of the man in relation to his work. In USA and other countries it is called by the name ‘human engineering or human factors engineering”. ILO defines human engineering as, “The application of human biological sciences along with engineering sciences to achieve optimum mutual adjustment of men and his work, the benefits being measured in terms of human efficiency and well-being.”

The human factors or human engineering is concerned with man-machine system. Thus another definition which highlights the man-machine system is: “The design of human tasks, man-machine system, and effective accomplishment of the job, including displays for presenting information to human sensors, controls for human operations and complex man-machine systems.”

Human engineering focuses on human beings and their interaction with products, equipment facilities and environments used in the work. Human engineering seeks to change the things people use and the environment in which they use the things to match in a better way the capabilities, limitations and needs of people.

Objectives of Human Engineering

Human engineering (ergonomics) has two broader objectives:

  1. To enhance the efficiency and effectiveness with which the activities (work) is carried out so as to increase the convenience of use, reduced errors and increase in productivity.
  2. To enhance certain desirable human values including safety reduced stress and fatigue and improved quality of life.

Thus, in general the scope and objective of ergonomics is “designing for human use and optimising working and living conditions”. Thus human factors (ergonomics) discover and apply information about human behaviour. Abilities and limitations and other characteristics to the design of tools, machines, systems, tasks, jobs and environment for productive, safe, comfortable and effective human use. Ergonomics aims at providing comfort and improved working conditions so as to channelise the energy, skills of the workers into constructive productive work. This accounts for increased productivity, safety and reduces the fatigue. This helps to increase the plant utilisation.

Source: KumarAnil, Suresh N. (2009), Production and operations management, New Age International Pvt Ltd; 2nd Ed. edition.

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