Ergonomics @ Yale


Ergonomics is the applied science that seeks to improve the design and function of tools and other objects used by people. Ergonomists evaluate the interaction between humans and these objects. By understanding the range and capability of the human body, ergonomists work to optimize the efficiency and safety of these interactions.

Modern approaches to ergonomics were pioneered in the early 1900s by the “efficiency expert” Frederick Taylor, who systematically categorized the elements of various jobs. By breaking down and studying all of the steps, Taylor was able to determine the optimal tools and levels of effort required for the overall task.

"Poor" ergonomics in the workplace contributes to injuries, whether from a one-time activity or the result of years of repetitive motions. These kinds of injuries (often referred to 'Muscular/Skeletal Disorder'or MSD) usually affect the muscle, skeletal, and/or nervous systems, and can cause pain and restrict bodily motions in affected individuals.

Cumulative trauma disorders (CTD) represent the bulk of ergonomically-related injuries. CTDs accumulate from months or even years of intensive repetitive motions or activities performed in an ergonomically-unsound manner. CTDs are not limited to work, but can also result from hobbies (e.g., playing an instrument, gardening, woodworking), sports and exercising (e.g., “tennis elbow”), or home chores. Fortunately, most CTDs can be prevented through a series of simple and inexpensive changes in equipment and practices, and adoption of several stretching and strengthening exercises.