Is it really "ergonomic"?

The Ergonomists within our team often moan about this issue so we thought it was about time we talked about it on the blog! How has "ergonomic" become a term that is owned by the marketing department? What does it mean if you are seeing a product described as being "ergonomic"?

The usual application seems to mean that something is curvy and therefore roughly shaped to fit your fingers or other part of your body.  This is where the majority of hand-held gadgets such as computer mice, scissors, knives, etc make their claim.  However this claim to fit the body doesn't stack up against the wide variety of anthropometric dimensions we find across the population - it might fit for you but it won't fit most other people.

Being "ergonomic" is about design to match the task being performed and allowing you to do it safely etc.  So some computer mice can make the claim as they help you interact with your computer and they may be carefully designed to minimise the risk of musculo-skeletal injuries but most don't.

One of our non-Ergonomics staff raised the question having been advised that pencil grips can be good in aiding writing skill development for children. 


A quick Google search flags that these are usually sold as "ergonomically correct" products.  To use they are not really ergonomic because the designer thinks they will fit the hand perfectly but because the thicker grip suits a child's hand and dexterity better and enables them to perform the task of writing better.

What do you think about "ergonomic" products?

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DESIGN AND THE HUMAN FACTOR: Is it really "ergonomic"?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Is it really "ergonomic"?

The Ergonomists within our team often moan about this issue so we thought it was about time we talked about it on the blog! How has "ergonomic" become a term that is owned by the marketing department? What does it mean if you are seeing a product described as being "ergonomic"?

The usual application seems to mean that something is curvy and therefore roughly shaped to fit your fingers or other part of your body.  This is where the majority of hand-held gadgets such as computer mice, scissors, knives, etc make their claim.  However this claim to fit the body doesn't stack up against the wide variety of anthropometric dimensions we find across the population - it might fit for you but it won't fit most other people.

Being "ergonomic" is about design to match the task being performed and allowing you to do it safely etc.  So some computer mice can make the claim as they help you interact with your computer and they may be carefully designed to minimise the risk of musculo-skeletal injuries but most don't.

One of our non-Ergonomics staff raised the question having been advised that pencil grips can be good in aiding writing skill development for children. 


A quick Google search flags that these are usually sold as "ergonomically correct" products.  To use they are not really ergonomic because the designer thinks they will fit the hand perfectly but because the thicker grip suits a child's hand and dexterity better and enables them to perform the task of writing better.

What do you think about "ergonomic" products?

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