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The ergonomics or ergonomics (from ancient Greek ἔργον ergon , German , work ' ,' work ', and νόμος nomos , German , rule' , Act ') is the science of the laws of human or automated work. The term was first used and defined in 1857 by Wojciech Jastrzębowski . The aim of ergonomics is to arrange the working conditions, the workflow, the arrangement of the objects to be gripped ( workpiece , tool , semi-finished product ) in a spatially and temporally optimized manner and to optimize the tools for a task in such a way that the work result (qualitatively and economically) is optimal and the working people tire or even be harmed as little as possible, even if they have been doing the job for years. Particular attention is paid to user-friendliness , i.e. improving the workplace, work organization and, today, mostly the human-machine interface . The physiological adjustment of handles, chairs, etc. is also included, but is usually referred to as ergonomics in advertising. A person who is professionally involved in ergonomics is called an ergonomist .



Goals, principles and methods are defined and described in the basic standard DIN EN ISO 26800 Ergonomics - General Approach, Principles and Concepts .

One of the goals of ergonomics is to manufacture products that are manageable and easy to use.

Another goal is ergonomic work design , where it is important to ensure efficient and error-free work and to protect people from damage to health, even if they carry out a long-term activity. Ergonomics is therefore of great importance for preventive occupational safety , occupational safety , economic efficiency and humanity. This also includes making tools and machines as durable and low-risk as possible.

Ergonomics is always important wherever people come into contact with machines (e.g. vehicles, computers, machine tools, kitchen appliances), tools or other objects (e.g. telephones, office chairs) while working or doing other activities. In the future, this will also apply to human-free production lines in order to avoid long distances for robots.


As an important field of ergonomics , the ergonomics is divided usually into the product ergonomics ( micro ergonomics ) and in the production ergonomics ( macro ergonomics ). In the case of complex human-machine systems, the transition between the two areas is often fluid, because the subsequent context of use is essential for ergonomic product design. For example, the design of work equipment (product ergonomics) should always take into account the working conditions such as the working environment and work task (production ergonomics).

As a link between work, technology and people (biology), ergonomics is an interdisciplinary science, which consequently comprises a very large area in the work and system design of cooperating, scientific sub-areas.

Under System Ergonomics refers to the on systems theory ergonomic-based, analytical treatment of problems of man-machine systems. This involves, for example, the division of functions between man and machine, the degree of automation or the boundary conditions of the man-machine interface resulting from the system integration (for example with regard to the technically available information and the information required by the user to carry out tasks).

In anthropometry , one deals with the recording and description of the properties of the human body (static anthropometry: physical structure and physical strength) as well as body movements (dynamic anthropometry) in the context of spatial workplace design.

The software ergonomics deals with the human-oriented design of human-computer interaction . The main area of ​​work is the design and evaluation of user interfaces for interactive computer-based systems. In addition to the various software products used in the office and private sector, this also applies to software systems for machine control in production areas, process management and vehicle management, but also systems that we use every day, such as B. household appliances, ticket machines, entertainment electronics etc.

The examination and guarantee of the usability of technical systems is the subject of software ergonomics.

The adaptation of technical systems to the abilities and skills of humans is also called anthropotechnics according to Bernotat .

In some fields of application, for example in the design of motor vehicles, domain-specific sub-areas of ergonomics have developed, for example vehicle ergonomics. In this area there have been increasing efforts in recent years to carry out investigations for driver assistance systems and navigation systems in motor vehicles with regard to usability, driver behavior and driving effect.

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

The engineering disciplines involved in the treatment of ergonomic issues often result from the specific application, for example automotive engineering , aerospace engineering or process engineering .

Since ergonomics sees itself as the link between people and technology, the human sciences are of great importance in ergonomics. Questions about the physiological properties of humans - especially with regard to physical performance - are dealt with by work physiology . The interactions between people's work and their health are the subject of occupational medicine .

From a psychological perspective, ergonomic issues are dealt with in work psychology , whereby engineering psychology deals specifically with the design of human-machine systems. The spectrum of the questions dealt with here ranges from human reliability (for better delimitation from the term technical reliability also: operational reliability or reliability) to the aspects of psychological constructs for evaluating human-machine systems and human-machine interfaces through to perceptual - and cognitive psychological aspects.

The aspects of human information processing, both by the perception physiology and the psychology of perception and cognitive psychology elucidated.

Particularly when it comes to product ergonomics, it is not only necessary to have an appropriate design from an ergonomic point of view, but also a design that meets optical requirements in order to ensure that the products are attractive on the market . As a result, there are references to product and industrial design .

Physical ergonomics

Example: Specifications for the ergonomic design of a computer workstation

The field of "physical ergonomics" deals with e.g. B. with the design of a workplace in industry or in the office. In addition to optimizing the workflow to increase efficiency, the aim is to avoid postural and movement damage.

Cognitive ergonomics

The field of "cognitive ergonomics" deals with e.g. B. with the design of software.

Organizational ergonomics

The area of ​​"organizational ergonomics" deals e.g. B. with the seating arrangements in classrooms . The aim is to optimize the efficiency of interpersonal communication.

Ergonomics in everyday life

The word ergonomics is becoming more and more common today. Almost all activities in daily life can now be examined under ergonomic criteria, ironing and cooking as well as working on a screen or bed rest at night .

Ergonomics at the workplace

When it comes to the ergonomic design of workplaces, the general understanding is usually primarily about physical stress. In addition, environmental variables such as climate ( light , radiation , temperature ), color, noise , vibrations , anthropometry and psychological stress in the workplace also play a role.

The musculoskeletal system, the supporting apparatus of the human body, consists of bones , muscles , ligaments , tendons , cartilage and connective tissue . It can be stressed by being overburdened as well as being underburdened.

In 2015, diseases of the musculoskeletal system were at the top of all types of illness with 325.9 days of incapacity for work per 100 insured years. This corresponds to a share of 21.7 percent of sick leave. The work lost time due to diseases of the musculoskeletal system averages 18.3 days. Back disorders make up the largest proportion of musculoskeletal disorders and are the cause of almost 6% of the days of incapacity for work.

Excessive demands on the musculoskeletal system can result, for example, from excessive stress caused by lifting, carrying, pulling or pushing loads, working in constrained postures, repetitive activities and working with great effort. Insufficient demands can be due to a lack of exercise (e.g. when doing office or driving).

In order to be able to measure loads on the musculoskeletal system under real working conditions, the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) has developed the CUELA measurement system (computer-aided recording and long-term analysis of loads on the musculoskeletal system). CUELA is a personal system that uses modern sensor technology and can be worn on work clothes. The associated software WIDAAN allows an automated evaluation of the measurement data according to ergonomic and biomechanical evaluation criteria. Based on this, statements can be made about necessary measures to avoid occupational health hazards.

Unfavorable ergonomic conditions in the workplace cause tension and sometimes serious health problems such as a slipped disc or chronic neck pain . Long-lasting, static work (such as work at the desk) should therefore only be carried out with ergonomically developed furniture. In addition to ergonomic office furniture, workplace design is of great importance. This includes, among other things, the order of the work equipment, the viewing distance to the screen, the observance of reach and movement areas and the lighting of the workplace.

Problems of ergonomics

One of the problems in the working world is directly related to learning the best ergonomic posture. For the back muscles, it is better to vary the movements than to stay in the ergonomically optimal posture for hours. For example, the back problems of forest workers in the Lower Saxony State Forests, who had to work 6 hours a day with a chainsaw (= at least 10 kg) in the ergonomically correct position during the wood harvest, could be significantly reduced if they varied the movement (also in ergonomically less functional ones Forms) and also completed a core training program for the back muscles developed by Arnd Krüger and Andree Niklas . Similarly, the doctrine has changed with regard to office work, in which movement is also considered to be more advantageous than remaining in an optimal posture.

History and Development

The Tunisian-French occupational physiologist and ergonomist Jules Mardochée Amar (1879–1935) is considered a pioneer in the field of ergonomics. He developed prostheses and training programs for the professional reintegration of war invalids. Since the conscious use of the term design, ergonomics have been increasingly developed. The first approaches arose at the Bauhaus . However, it was only developed and applied consistently and comprehensively by the American product designer Henry Dreyfuss and his design office.

Today, observing and applying ergonomic knowledge is not only a useful addition to products for the user, but also a market advantage over the competition.

The standardization of ergonomics is promoted by the DIN Ergonomics Standards Committee (NAErg).

Teaching and Research

Institutes, departments, facilities and events on ergonomics can be found primarily at universities:

  • Computer science, software ergonomics (e.g. University of Hamburg, Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University)
  • Mechanical engineering, design, mechatronics
  • Psychology, human-machine interface (e.g. University of Hamburg)

Ergonomics is particularly common at technical universities and there mostly at mechanical engineering faculties. This is often due to the fact that ergonomics and ergonomics institutes emerged from predecessor institutes that were to be found in mechanical engineering faculties (for example labor physiology institutes ).

Ergonomic institutes with a focus on ergonomics can be found in Germany today at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal, TU Munich, TU Ilmenau, TU Darmstadt, TU Dresden, RWTH Aachen, TU Chemnitz, TU Dortmund, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, and Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) and at TU Berlin, in Austria at TU Vienna and TU Graz and in Switzerland at ETH Zurich.

External university research institutes with ergonomic topics include the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO), Stuttgart, the Institute for Applied Industrial Engineering (ifaa) , Düsseldorf, and the REFA Institute, Dortmund.

See also


  • DIN EN ISO 26800: 2011: Ergonomics - General approach, principles and concepts.
  • DIN EN ISO 6385: 2004-05: Principles of ergonomics for the design of work systems.
  • DIN EN 614: Safety of machines - ergonomic design principles; Part 1 2006: Terms and general principles; Part 2 2000: Interactions between the design of machines and work tasks.
  • DIN EN ISO 9241-5: 1999: Ergonomic requirements for office work with display screen equipment Part 5: Requirements for workplace design and posture
  • Christopher Schlick, Ralph Bruder, Holger Luczak: Ergonomics . 3. Edition. Springer, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-540-78332-9 .
  • M. Adler, H.-J. Herrmann, M. Koldehoff, V. Meuser, S. Scheuer, H. Müller-Arnecke, A. Windel, T. Bleyer: Ergonomics Compendium - Application of Ergonomic Rules and Testing of the Usability of Products. Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Dortmund 2010 ( ).
  • Kurt Landau (Ed.): Good Practice . Ergonomics and work design. Ergonomia, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-935089-63-5 .
  • Ahmet Çakır, David J. Hart, Thomas FM Stewart: Computer workstations . Ergonomics, workplace design, health, etc. Security, task organization. In: The VDT manual . Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York 1980, ISBN 3-540-10068-7 (313 pages, paperback).
  • Walter Ambros: Trends in VDU work . A handbook on law, health and ergonomics in practice. Ed .: Friedrich Blaha. Springer , Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-211-83504-0 .
  • Hans-Jörg Bullinger : Ergonomics . Product and workplace design. Teubner , Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-519-06366-2 .
  • Joachim English: Ergonomics of software products . Methodical development of evaluation procedures. BI-Wiss.-Verl., Mannheim 1993, ISBN 3-411-16061-6 .
  • Gerhard Förster u. a .: ergonomics . A focus of practiced participation. Bund-Verlag , Cologne 1981, ISBN 3-7663-0505-0 .
  • Institute for applied work science eV (ifaa) (Hrsg.): Efficiency in operation . Springer, Berlin 2015, ISBN 3-662-43397-4 .
  • Reinhard Koether: Plant planning and ergonomics . Planning of work systems. Hanser , Munich 2001, ISBN 3-446-21074-1 .
  • Wolfgang Laurig : Basics of ergonomics . Insights and principles. Ed .: REFA. Beuth , Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-410-36577-X .
  • Kurt Landau, Holger Luczak (ed.): Ergonomics and organization in assembly . Hanser, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-446-21507-7 .
  • Wolfgang Lange, Armin Windel: Small Ergonomic Data Collection , 15th updated edition Cologne 2013, ISBN 978-3-8249-1659-7 .
  • Michael Herczeg: software ergonomics . Basics of human-computer communication. Oldenbourg , Munich 2005, ISBN 3-486-25052-3 .
  • Theodor Hettinger, Gerhard Kaminsky, Hugo Schmale: Ergonomics in the workplace . Data on the humane design of work. 2nd Edition. Kiehl, Ludwigshafen 1980, ISBN 3-470-87152-3 .
  • Heinz Schmidtke (Ed.): Ergonomics . 3. Edition. Hanser, Munich Vienna 1993, ISBN 3-446-16440-5 .
  • Wolfgang Schneider: Ergonomic requirements for office work with screen devices . Principles of dialogue design; Comment on DIN EN ISO 9241-10. Ed .: German Institute for Standardization . Beuth, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-410-13832-3 .
  • Sascha Stowasser : Methodological foundations of software ergonomic evaluation research . Shaker, Aachen 2006, ISBN 3-8322-5175-8 .
  • Jens Wandmacher: Software ergonomics . de Gruyter , Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-11-012971-X .
  • L. Zamprotta: La qualité comme philosophie de la production.Interaction avec l'ergonomie et perspectives futures . TIU Press, Independence, Missouri (USA) 1994, ISBN 0-89697-452-9 (French, thèse de Maîtrise ès Sciences Appliquées - Informatique, Institut d'Etudes Supérieures L'Avenir, Bruxelles, année universitaire 1992-1993).

Web links

Wiktionary: Ergonomics  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Ergonomics  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  2. 4. DAK-Gesundheit: Health Report 2016 Analysis of the incapacity data. Retrieved May 16, 2017 .
  3. Ellegast, RP: Personal measuring system for the automated recording of spinal column loads during professional activities (BIA Report 5/98) . Ed .: Main Association of Commercial Employer's Liability Insurance Associations. Sankt Augustin 1998, ISBN 3-88383-507-2 ( ).
  4. Sabrina Rudolph: Fit in the forest: A movement-related intervention for foresters. Universitätsverlag, Göttingen 2013, ISBN 978-3-86395-104-7 ; Bernd Steinhoff: Fit in the forest: Effects of a six-month training intervention under the influence of manual therapy on episodes of back pain as well as physiological and psychological properties. Cuvilier, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-9540406-7-4 .
  5. Kempf, Hans-Dieter. Posture training and movement learning. The new back school . Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2014. 299–321.
  6. Christoph Auf der Horst: Amar, Jules Mardochée. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 50.