The Ergonomics Society of South Africa
The Ergonomics Society of South Africa (ESSA) is a federated member of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA).
As a society, ESSA, aims to promote an awareness of ergonomics in South Africa and both the health and safety and productivity benefits that can be derived from the implementation of sound ergonomics principles.
What is Ergonomics or Human Factors?
Ergonomics is the science of work. Derived from the Greek words ergon (work) and nomos (laws).
The terms ‘ergonomics’ and ‘human factors’ can be used interchangeably, although ‘ergonomics’ is often used in relation to the physical aspects of the enviroment, such as workstations and control panels, while ‘human factors’ is often used in relation to wider systems in which people work.
The official International Ergonomics Association (IEA) definition of ergonomics (or human factors) is as follows: “Ergonomics (or Human Factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimise human well-being and overall system performance.
Ergonomists (or Human Factors Specialists) contribute to the design and evaluation of tasks, jobs, products, environments and systems in order to make them compatible with the needs, abilities and limitations of people. Taken from http://iea.cc/
Practicing Ergonomists (or Human Factors Specialists) are likely to come from a number of diverse areas, but all will be concerned with the assessment of people in their working environments. Ergonomics (or Human Factors) in Industrially Developing Countries (IDCs) is a major focus for ESSA as we work at growing the discipline in Africa.
Ergonomics (or Human Factors) has a number of domains of specialisation. These include the following broad areas: physical, cognitive and organisational ergomonics.
The IEA defines these areas of specialisation as:
Physical ergonomics is concerned with human anatomical, anthropometric, physiological and biomechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity.
(Relevant topics include working postures, materials handling, repetitive movements, work related musculoskeletal disorders, workplace layout, safety and health.)
Cognitive ergonomics is concerned with mental processes, such as perception, memory, reasoning, and motor response, as they affect interactions among humans and other elements of a system.
(Relevant topics include mental workload, decision-making, skilled performance, human-computer interaction, human reliability, work stress and training as these may relate to human-system design.)
Organisational ergonomics is concerned with the optimisation of sociotechnical systems, including their organisational structures, policies, and processes.
(Relevant topics include communication, crew resource management, work design, design of working times, teamwork, participatory design, community ergonomics, cooperative work, new work paradigms, virtual organizations, telework, and quality management.)