Human factors and ergonomics

The ergonomics (from the ancient Greek. Ἔργον ergon, " work", " work", and nomos νόμος, "rule", "law" ) is the science of the laws of human or automated work. First, it defines the term was in 1857 by Wojciech Jastrzebowski in Rys ergonomji czyli nauki o pracy, opartej na prawdach poczerpniętych z Nauki Przyrody ( Outline of Ergonomics, ie Science of Work based on the truths of the natural sciences). The aim of ergonomics is the working conditions, the work process, the arrangement of the grippable objects ( workpiece, tool, semis ) spatially and temporally organize optimized, and optimize the tools for the job so that the job results ( quality and cost ) is optimally and fatigue the working people as little as possible or even damaged, even when they exercise the work over the years. A special emphasis is placed on ease of use, ie the improvement of the workplace and of work organization. Today, most of the human- machine interface. Although falls physiological adaptation, the human body adapted handles, chairs and so on, also including, is in advertising but usually named / confused with ergonomics.

Ergonomics is described in the German language under REFA and in the Anglo-Saxon language area under Taylorism.



One goal of ergonomics is to create manageable and comfortable -to-use products.

Another goal is the ergonomic work design, in which it is important to ensure efficient and error-free operation and to protect people from health and for long- term performance of an activity. Thus ergonomics is very important for the preventative safety and health, occupational safety, economy and humanity. Also keep the tools and machines as possible durable, long service life and safe excluded.

Ergonomics is always important where the person (eg, vehicles, computers, machine tools, food processors), tools or other objects (eg, telephones, office chairs ) comes into contact with the work or other activities with machines. In the future, people -free production lines, so that the robot does not have to run unnecessarily long routes.


As an important research field of science, the ergonomics divided by the subject area usually in the product ergonomics ( ergonomics micro ) and in the production ergonomics (macro ergonomics ). The transition between the two sub-regions with complex human-machine systems is often blurred, because in the ergonomic product design of the future context of use is essential. For example, the work equipment design ( product ergonomics) should always be done in compliance with the working conditions such as work environment and work tasks (production ergonomics).

As the link between work, technology and people (biology) the ergonomics is an interdisciplinary science, which therefore covers a very large area in the cooperative work and system design, scientific subdivisions:

So is the based on the system theory, analytical treatment ergonomic issues of human-machine systems, for example in relation to the division of functions between man and machine, the degree of automation or resulting from the system integration constraints of human- machine interface ( for example with regard referred to as system ergonomics to the technically shared the information and the necessary for task execution information needs of the user).

In anthropometry one deals with the detection and description of the properties of the human body (static anthropometry: Build and body forces ) and body movements (dynamic anthropometry ) in the context of spatial workplace design.

The software ergonomics deals with the human -oriented design of human-computer interaction. A key area of ​​work is the design and evaluation of user interfaces for interactive computer-based systems. In addition to software products manifold used in office and home environments is offered, including software systems for machine control in areas of production, process control and vehicle guidance, but also systems that we use every day, such as home appliances, ticket machines, devices consumer electronics etc.

The investigation and warranties of merchantability technical systems is the subject of software ergonomics.

The technical systems to adapt to the skills and abilities of the people is called after Bernotat well as human factors.

In some application areas, for example in the design of motor vehicles, to domain-specific portions of the ergonomics have designed, for example, the vehicle ergonomics. In this area there are in recent years intensified efforts to conduct investigations for driver assistance systems and navigation systems in motor vehicles in terms of usability, driver behavior and driving impact.

As an interdisciplinary science, ergonomics has many interfaces to engineering and the humanities as well as the design. In the area of ​​software ergonomics is also a relationship to computer science.

The companies included in the treatment ergonomic issues engineering disciplines often arise from the specific application, so for example for automotive technology, aviation and space technology or process engineering.

Since the ergonomics understands the link between man and technology, the human sciences is of great importance to the ergonomics. Questions of the physiological properties of the people - particularly in relation to physical performance - treated by the work physiology. The interactions between the work of man and his health are the subject of occupational medicine.

From a psychological perspective ergonomic issues are treated in industrial psychology, with the engineering psychology is concerned specifically with the design of human -machine systems. The spectrum of the questions treated here ranges from the human reliability (for better delineation of the concept of technical reliability also: action reliability or reliability ) of the aspects of psychological constructs for the evaluation of man-machine systems and human- machine interfaces to perceptual - and cognitive psychological aspects.

The aspects of human information processing are informed both by the perception physiology and the psychology of perception and cognitive psychology.

Especially during the product ergonomics not only a proper ergonomic point of view of design, but also a sufficient optical claims design is required to ensure the market appeal of the products. Coverings result consequently for product and industrial design.

Physical ergonomics

The area of ​​the " physical ergonomics " is concerned, for example, with the design of a job in the industry, or in the office. In addition to the never-ending goal of workflow optimization to increase the efficiency, avoidance of posture and movement damage is the goal. See, for example, KFS method in the auto industry.

Cognitive ergonomics

The field of " cognitive ergonomics " is concerned, for example, the design of software.

Organizational ergonomics

The field of " organizational ergonomics " is concerned, for example, with the seating arrangements in classrooms. The aim is to optimize the efficiency of interpersonal communication.

Ergonomics in everyday life

The word ergonomics is now gaining more and more part of everyday language. The reason is the ever-increasing risk to humans by technology, not only during working hours. Almost all activities of daily living can be studied with ergonomics criteria, iron and cook as well as the work on the screen or the nocturnal bed rest.

Due to poor ergonomics in the workplace caused tension and often severe health problems such as herniated disc or chronic neck pain. Long-lasting, static work positions (such as working at your desk) should be done only with ergonomically designed furniture. In addition to ergonomic office furniture workstation design is of great importance. These include, inter alia, the organization of the working fluid, the viewing distance to the screen, attention gripping and moving rooms and the lighting of the workplace.


Since the conscious use of the term design ergonomics is increasingly developed. First approaches have been developed at the Bauhaus. Consistently and comprehensively but was developed and applied only by the U.S. product designer Henry Dreyfuss and his design office.

Today is the observance and application of ergonomic principles not only a useful supplement to the user of products, but also a market advantage over the competition.


Institutions, departments, institutions and events on ergonomics are found primarily in higher education:

  • Technical colleges (universities ), colleges
  • Computer science, software ergonomics (eg, University of Hamburg, Duale Hochschule Baden- Württemberg)
  • Engineering, design, mechatronics
  • Psychology, human-machine interface (eg, University of Hamburg)

The ergonomics are very commonly found at technical colleges and there mostly on engineering faculties. This is often because that work science and ergonomics institutions have emerged from previous institutions which were to be found in engineering faculties (for example, working Physiological Institute).

Work Research Institute with ergonomic priorities can be found in Germany today, among others, the University of Wuppertal, TU Munich, TU Ilmenau, TU Darmstadt, TU Dresden, RWTH Aachen, TU Chemnitz, TU Dortmund, Otto -von- Guericke- University Magdeburg, at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology ( KIT) and the TU Berlin, in Austria at the Vienna University and Graz University of Technology as well as in Switzerland at ETH Zurich.