Studies on human workplace and task-efficiency and safety have been conducted across the broad fields of industry for centuries. While most people associate work place training for efficiencies as largely a blue-collar necessity there remains equal value across-the-board when ergonomics and – it can be argued for some industries time standard applications are applied to white-collar jobs as well.
White collar tasks tend to have more activity variability, longer mental task durations and often less repetitive. Many industries like health, public safety and organizational administration all require job performance evaluations to support effectiveness, time management and muscular injury prevention for either not enough movement, or too much.
Ergonomics and Human Factors
This multidisciplinary field incorporates multiple contributions from many fields such as:
- Operations research
- Industrial design
- Graphic design
In its essence it is defined by the study of designing equipment and devices that fit easily with the human body and its cognitive functioning. The terms of “human factors” and “ergonomics” remain essentially synonymous.
Why Work Measurement
The International Ergonomics Association describes ergonomics (or human factors) as follows:
“Ergonomics (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 optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”
The Association is mandated to fulfill the goals of health and safety, as well as productivity. This is primarily relevant for proper-design of things like safe furniture or easy-to-use interfaces to machines and other equipment.
Exceptional, up-stream, pre-production phase ergonomic task performance design is needed in order to prevent repetitive-strain injuries. This in turn prevents other muscular-skeletal disorders, most of which develop over time while leading to long-term disabilities.
Work measurement is one of the ways job tasks and performance is broken down into manageable movements within pre-set ergonomic guidelines and standards applied to them.
This is also why it is so important to measure white collar work as it generates efficiencies such as improved planning, activity-based costing, managing performance, process-improvement, training, and much more.
Human factors and ergonomics look at the “fit” between the environment, the user, and their equipment. The process takes into account the user’s abilities, potential and limitations. The goal is to ensure those tasks, functions, information and the environment best support fast and efficient task performance by every individual user.
To determine and better assess the fit between a person and the technology being utilized, human factors specialists, or ergonomists, evaluate the job and inherent activities being performed along with the physical and mental demands on the user.
An evaluation is made of the equipment used including its size and shape, and how appropriate it may or may not be for the task. This information is then used to break the task down into measurable time increments that can be repeated by others in a similar time frame.
The information gathered during the time and work measurement study determines how that task is presented, approached, and or changed as needed to deliver better health, safety and efficiency of effort.
Ergonomics gathers from many disciplines when studying humans and their work environments. It has long been understood that the effectiveness of this endeavor spans across the workplace and dramatically enhances both white and blue-collar task performance.
Work measurement becomes especially important when it comes to lawsuits or workplace injury cases – experts in work injury management and applied ergonomics must base their opinions and case decisions on sound, recognized methodology such as those from the use of predetermined time systems, PDTS. To this end – business owners protect both themselves and their workers.
Are you using a PDTS to establish your work standards?
Are you interested in learning more about how predetermined systems can be used to train and teach your employees? If so, contact us for more information. We have helped others, maybe we can help you too.