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What is Ergonomics? Physical and mental capacity

by Sarfraz Hussain 2 years ago in advice
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Ergonomics - Overview | Occupational Safety and Health .

What is Ergonomics


Ergonomics is the application of scientific knowledge in the design of objects, systems, and technology used by human beings with the aim of ensuring the health and safety of workers and increasing levels of productivity.

Ergonomic principles are applied in various human activities such as work, leisure, or sport. The goal is to ensure that people get the most out of activities carried out under conditions of their health and safety. Ergonomics is fundamental in the area of ​​hygiene and safety at work, but it is not exclusive to this.

However, in the world of work, there are four central concerns for ergonomics. These key conditions are safety, health, efficiency, and productivity.

Ergonomics contributes to hygiene and safety at work because when applied it allows to avoid:

  • Absences of workers for health reasons;
  • Accidents at work;
  • Need for professional replacement due to physical wear and tear;

Ignoring the application of ergonomic principles in the world of work can result in very serious repercussions, which are not limited to the damage caused to workers. The organization itself can suffer in terms of productivity and motivation of employees. There are many serious occupational accidents that can be avoided when applying ergonomic principles.

In order to apply ergonomic principles effectively, several aspects have to be considered, which can be divided into three more general categories:

  • The task to be performed and the requirements of this;
  • The equipment used (size, shape, adaptability);
  • The information used (how it is presented, accessed and changed);
  • The atmosphere where the task is performed (temperature, humidity levels, lighting, noise, vibrations);
  • Social environment (teamwork, support from the administration);

Physical capacity:

  • Size and volume of the individual's body;
  • Endurance and strength;
  • Posture;
  • Senses: sight, hearing, touch;
  • Muscle and ligament resistance;

Mental capacity:

  • Mental capacities;
  • Personality;
  • Knowledge;
  • Experience;

Identifying Ergonomic Problems

Whether in the office or on a construction site, some ergonomic problems can be easily identified using different approaches:

  • Inquire about the opinion of the workers. Employees, like no one else, know the challenges and problems at work.
  • Evaluate the work done through questions such as:
  • Is the person in a comfortable position or does he / she experience discomfort, pain, tiredness or stress during work?

Is the equipment the most appropriate for the tasks performed?

Is the employee satisfied with the tasks he or she performs?

Are there frequent errors during the production process?

Are there signs of poorly designed equipment? In these cases, the use of protective equipment for knees, elbows, or other "equipment" made at home manually may indicate an ergonomic problem.

  • Examine the circumstances in which the most frequent mistakes that lead to injuries occur. Use their report to identify the reasons that may have caused these same accidents.
  • Analyze workers' absences. High rates may mean a high number of accidents or dissatisfaction with work.

Ergonomics and Civil Construction Civil

Construction is seen as an activity that greatly limits the physical condition and health of professionals in the sector from the age of 55, as they begin to suffer chronic pain due to the efforts made. In shipyards and construction sites, the environment can be very harmful to workers due to the dust that enters the respiratory systems.

Predominant Ergonomic Problems in Civil Construction:

  • Tasks that require long periods in the same position;
  • Lifting and loading of heavy loads;
  • Tasks above shoulder level and below knee level;
  • Noise is a frequent threat that limits the hearing capacity of workers;
  • Materials and equipment tend to create dust which results in a series of respiratory complications;
  • Falls of people and objects.

However, ergonomics has been responsible for several changes in the habits of the civil construction sector. The demands have been increasing, this being one of the sectors in which security levels have evolved in previous decades.

Some ergonomic solutions can be easily implemented at shipyards and construction sites. These solutions can make a difference in terms of health and safety but also terms of productivity:

  • Plan work to minimize manual work;
  • Keep the materials inaccessible places to ensure that the passages are always free and tidy;
  • Use tools designed by ergonomic principles;
  • Use the available means of support to transport and load heavy goods, such as wheelbarrows, forklifts, and the like;
  • Use knee pads whenever it is necessary to spend long periods on your knees;
  • Use handles to lift weights when this type of task is done manually;
  • Create a culture of cooperation at work when it is necessary to manually load heavy goods;
  • Teach workers to adopt more ergonomic work postures through training.
  • Ergonomics in Commerce and the Office

    Commerce and activities at the office level are very similar since both involve long periods when workers are seated. However, sometimes these periods are interspersed with the loading of some objects to replace stocks or to search archives.

    The ergonomics in these activities are not limited by the concerns with the way the employees are seated. It is also very important to make workers feel comfortable to be able to carry out the tasks they are tasked within a more productive way.

    In offices, computers, particularly the keyboard and mouse, are of great concern to minimize the impact of tiredness and discomfort they can cause. However, other aspects are also essential to improve the efficiency of workers, namely, the ambient temperature, noise, and lighting.

    For example, when spending a large part of the day sitting to maintain concentration levels, it is essential to work in a well-lit environment with low noise levels. On the other hand, if the work concerns the transport of materials, the temperature must be cool, since the body will generate heat for itself, and the levels of lighting and noise are not so important.

    Most frequent ergonomic problems in this area

    • Screen incorrectly positioned, being too far / too close, high / low or too little centered in relation to the worker;
    • The mouse is incorrectly positioned, requiring the worker to make an effort to use it;
    • Poorly adjusted chairs, making the user feel in uncomfortable and unnatural positions;
    • Insufficient breaks or monotonous activities;
    • Equipment and programs unsuitable for the tasks performed, causing stress and frustration for the user;
    • Too heavy loads that require an inappropriate effort from the worker;
    • Repetitive lifting of loads;
    • Unnatural body movements;
    • Manual transport of loads carried out on an improper floor;
    • Loading of materials carried out with tight deadlines, leaving little time to take breaks;
    • Unrealistic expectations regarding the work of employees;
    • Lack of support from colleagues / employers;
    • Excess of work.

    It can be relatively easy to find solutions to problems when they are well identified. Some suggestions are:

    Provide workers with chairs whose height can be changed according to the user's needs;

    Remove possible obstacles under the tables to create enough space for the legs;

    Store the heaviest and most used materials on waist-level shelves so that your movement requires little effort;

    Introduce a rotation system in the tasks performed to avoid mental and physical fatigue;

    Change the position of the desks to avoid reflections of light on the screens;

    Training on the attitudes to be adopted when using computer equipment and on the diseases that incorrect behavior can cause;


    At first, the professions of ergonomics and physical therapy at work may seem quite similar, but with a closer look, we notice that they are not. It is important to know the differences between the ergonomics professional and the physiotherapist at work so that you can direct your studies and training and thus better manage your time and money. In addition, only when you know what each of these professionals does, is it possible to position yourself correctly in the market, both as a professional and in your niche.

    Who is the physiotherapist at work?

    After graduating from Physiotherapy, those interested in obtaining a title of Occupational Physiotherapist must take the title exam from COFFITO, the Federal Council of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. This test is linked to ABRAFIT, the Brazilian Association of Physiotherapy at Work, and is suitable for any title of a physiotherapist.

    Those who took a post-graduate or specialization course with an emphasis on physical therapy at work before July 14, 2010, do not need to take the title test, as stated in Resolution 207 of the Federal Council of Physiotherapy. It is important to remember that the course in question must be validated by COFFITO.

    Who is the ergonomics?

    To become an ergonomics, you need a college degree and a lato sensu postgraduate degree in ergonomics with at least 360 hours of curriculum. Ergonomics is a multidisciplinary profession, that is, it can be performed by professionals from different degrees.

    But costs did not remember that: to act with ergonomics you need not be an ergonomics, IE not need to have a specialization broad sense to give that title to you. Having a higher education degree you can train yourself in other ways to start acting, such as courses, training, mentoring in the area both online and in person.

    And how to differentiate yourself? You can have a competitor with different specializations and courses, but if you, when participating in a competition with a client, show how prepared, dedicated, how well you have acted, your experiences with other clients, results already obtained, your chances stand out are very big. The company wants a professional who brings real results and not just theory, so get the ball rolling and don't expect titles to start working.

    Another important tip: specialization courses, MBA's and title exams are expensive and require the dedication of your time. So, only do it when you have more experience in the area and are sure you want to follow this path. Otherwise, you can invest a lot in something that seems to make sense at the time, but then it will turn out to be unimportant to your career.

    The importance of the niche in the profession

    COFFITO Resolution 465 brings an extensive list of services that can be performed by the occupational physiotherapist. It is a great material for professionals to improve their portfolio or even choose a specific niche among the services that have more affinity.

    But why is choosing a professional niche important?

    In Brazil we have a culture of scarcity, which makes many professionals think that they should do all kinds of work, without refusing, after all, they may run out of opportunities from one day to the next. Although this reasoning is even understandable within the reality in which we live, it is detrimental to our professional growth.

    In my case, for example. I position myself as an ergonomics, niche in ergonomic work analysis and the implementation and management of ergonomics in companies. I do not, for example, perform ergonomic expertise. Some people may think that with this I am losing opportunity and money, but it is just the opposite. By positioning myself and specializing in what I like, I got more customers interested in the services I provide and became an authority on the subject. When they come to me for services that I don't provide, I simply refer other professionals I believe in and so I stay focused on doing what I like and what I know.

    Remember: to be a successful professional it is very important to know who you are, where you want to act, position yourself, and niche.

    Differences between the ergonomics and the physiotherapist at work

    1 - The ergonomist is multidisciplinary

    Several undergraduate degrees can lead to ergonomics, some have more affinity, as a physical education professional, doctor, engineer, physiotherapist, psychologist, occupational therapist, security technologist, speech therapist, nurse, among others. It is a very large list of professions since the requirement is to have a higher education degree to be trained in the area, that is, the list of professions that can act is gigantic. Physiotherapy at work, on the other hand, is not multidisciplinary, it only allows the entry of physiotherapists.

    2 - The focus of performance

    The ergonomics professional focuses on demands such as ergonomic work analysis, reports, ergonomic management in companies, technical opinions, COERGO training, ergonomic training, ergonomic lectures, SIPAT, ergonomic risk analysis and management, implementation of ergonomic improvements, expertise ergonomics, implementation of ISO's related to health and safety at work, that is, all the most technical part specific to ergonomics.

    The physiotherapist at work, on the other hand, does everything the ergonomics does, plus the skills that only the physiotherapist has to do, so he ends up with a much wider range of performance. To name a few opportunities, we have the physiotherapy outpatient clinic, functional kinesiological evaluation, and diagnosis, ergonomic opinion and report, PPRA, functional capacity diagnosis, causal link of the bio mechanical part, labor gymnastics (which can also be done by education professionals physical), functional rehabilitation (when the professional returns from leave), physical therapy certificate, among others.

    Knowing the differences between the two professions is essential to understand how it is possible to act, the courses and specializations available, and what services you can specialize in, thus becoming a professional with quality delivery.


    About the author

    Sarfraz Hussain

    I am a professional journalist and I work as a writer and reporter in a national newspaper. The purpose of my life is to help people. Useful Tips on Health Care to Improve the Lives of an Ordinary Man.

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