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The ergonomics is an original engineering-embossed interdisciplinary science that studies the work of people viewed from different aspects. It follows a differently understood, often economically (entrepreneurially) oriented maximum principle to achieve maximum success with given means (see: economic principle ). Objectives are also the optimal design of work tasks and work system , job evaluation , safety and health protection at work.

Objects of ergonomics are the scientific, methodical and systematic treatment of all questions that are related to the planning , design , performance and implementation of human work.

Ergonomics examines the various forms of concrete work under the aspects of human cooperation and the interaction between people, work equipment and work goals. Ergonomics also deals with working conditions and their effects and consequences for people.

Science is based on empirical , theoretical and organizational scientific methods .

The subject of ergonomics is classified as a small subject in Germany .


Ergonomics was founded by Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) and his student Frank Bunker Gilbreth (1868-1924). Both tried to optimize workers' work processes by observing certain groups of workers. Taylor had assumed that by observing the best worker, he could work out the optimal process. Gilbreth, on the other hand, examined the laziest worker, as he only performed the most necessary work steps.

Taylorism was first adopted in the German Reich by Adolf Wallichs at the WZL machine tool laboratory at RWTH Aachen University , and in 1924 led to the establishment of the Reich Committee for Working Time Determination ( see: REFA ).

Fields of activity

Ergonomics is divided into two areas: adapting work to people and adapting people to work.

When adapting work to people, attention is paid to the natural abilities, skills and characteristics of people and workplaces, processes and environments are adapted and designed accordingly.

When adapting people to work, it is ensured that people meet the qualification requirements and can bring their professional experience, abilities and skills to the work. It must also be ensured that the worker is motivated .

Today ergonomics deals with a wide variety of workplaces: in production (e.g. automotive industry) as well as with office workplaces, with physical as well as intellectual work. Current topics are, for example, future work models, older employees, interdisciplinary teams, the impact of modern technology on work processes, etc.

See also


  • Christopher M. Schlick , Ralph Bruder, Holger Luczak: Ergonomics . 4th, completely revised and expanded edition. Springer, Berlin et al. 2018, ISBN 978-3-662-56036-5 .
  • Peter Hinrichs: About the worker's soul. Work psychology, industrial and business sociology in Germany 1871-1945 (= small library. Vol. 211). Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne 1981, ISBN 3-7609-0599-4 .
  • Karl Heinz Roth : Intelligence and Social Policy in the “Third Reich”. A methodological-historical study using the example of the Ergonomic Institute of the German Labor Front. Saur, Munich et al. 1993, ISBN 3-598-11166-5 .
  • Theodor Hettinger (ed.): Compendium of ergonomics. Opportunities to optimize work design and work organization. Kiehl (Rhein), Ludwigshafen 1993, ISBN 3-470-45401-9 .
  • Matthias Schick: "Dynamic modeling of agricultural work with special consideration of work planning". Stuttgart, Ergonomia-Verlag 2008 ISBN 978-3-935089-07-4
  • Roland Hecker: "Physical Work Science". Berlin, 1998, ISBN 3-89574-380-1
  • Stephan Laske, Manfred Schweres (Ed.): Work orientation in economics - diversity as a crisis indicator or as a potential? Series of publications on interdisciplinary ergonomics, Volume 2. Munich and Mering, 2014
  • Hans Martin, Fundamentals of humane work design, Cologne, 1994, Bund-Verlag
  • Karsten Uhl : Ergonomics, in: Technical anthropology. Handbook for Science and Studies, ed. v. Martina Heßler u. Kevin Liggieri, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2020, pp. 349–354.

Web links

Wiktionary: Ergonomics  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ergonomics - definition in the Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon
  2. see page of the Small Subjects Unit about study opportunities in ergonomics, accessed on April 17, 2019