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What is the Ergonomics Practice Specialty?

What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the applied science of equipment design (for the workplace) intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, 1999) defines ergonomics as follows:

“Ergonomics is the science of fitting jobs to people. Ergonomics encompasses the body of knowledge about physical abilities and limitations as well as other human characteristics that are relevant to job design. Ergonomic design is the application of this body of knowledge to the design of the workplace (i.e., work tasks, equipment, environment) for safe and efficient use by workers. Good ergonomic design makes the most efficient use of worker capabilities while ensuring that job demands do not exceed those capabilities.”

When we define ergonomics in terms of science, it is the science of designing products that work in accordance with the way humans think, see and behave. Products that are compatible with people will dramatically reduce human error, fatigue, discomfort and stress and have a profound positive impact on overall end-user performance.

Why an Ergonomics Practice Specialty within ASSE?
The purpose of the Ergonomics Practice Specialty is to provide quality services to its members and technical support to the Council on Practices and Standards (CoPS), the Society and the safety, health and environmental (SH&E) profession by identifying, encouraging and financially supporting opportunities for its members to:

  • Network and share successful practices
  • Establish and contribute to standards of practice
  • Influence government affairs

 

ASSE has recognized the importance of ergonomics by supporting educational programs on the topic for many years. As employers look to reduce their accidents and workers’ compensation costs, musculoskeletal injuries are the most costly and persistent. As SH&E professionals, we must look at workplace design and tools to reduce the stressors that can cause these injuries.

Ergonomics is a major part of the future of safety. The Ergonomics Practice Specialty was formed in response to a growing interest within ASSE. As the science of ergonomics evolves, SH&E professionals must stay abreast of the latest concepts and innovations. SH&E professionals should be at the forefront as technology changes.

What is the goal of the Ergonomics Practice Specialty?
The goal of the Ergonomics Practice Specialty is to be recognized for:

  • Exceeding members’ expectations
  • Professionalism
  • Continuous performance improvement
  • High-quality and innovative Practice Specialty contributions
  • A large and engaged membership
  • Fiscal responsibility and revenue production

 

The Ergonomics Practice Specialty can be the lead in position papers, white papers and discussions with regulatory bodies on ergonomic issues. It can arrange for key ergonomics professionals to speak at conferences and to educate members on current and evolving concepts in ergonomics. The Practice Specialty can represent ASSE with other professional organizations, such as AIHA, on ergonomic issues.

Objectives and activities of the Ergonomics Practice Specialty include:

  • Publishing a triannual electronic newsletter with technical information of interest to SH&E professionals practicing ergonomic principles
  • Developing technical sessions for ASSE’s annual Professional Development Conference
  • Raising money to fund an ergonomics scholarship

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