Human factors and its relevance to mechanical engineering

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Human factors also referred to as ergonomics refers to the ‘science of designing a workplace, equipment and a job to be conducive for human beings to work. Human factors encompass a broad field that explores factors that allow human beings to fit and feel like they belong in a job or workplace environment. The science of human factors allows designers to come up with ways in which human beings can use equipment and move around a workplace environment with minimal stress. Ergonomics or human factors basically involves a method of design with relevance to the comfort of employees in a work environment.

Human factors can range from the factors that reduce stress on the physical bodies of human beings to environmental or external factors such as lighting in the room, temperature of a room, and noise levels. These are factors that in one way or another affect how information is presented to the worker and how efficiently the worker processes, retains and utilizes this information in order to be optimally productive.

The study of human factors studies the way information is presented in different work places and how this presentation influences the capacity of employees to work in that environment. This allows for the identification of factors that are involved with a successful workplace as well as those that act as a barrier in the workplace. Ergonomics as a science deals with finding reasons for the success of specific workplace factors and the production of ways to exploit these factors in order to make the job more productive.

The science of ergonomics has five main principles. These include; comfort, ease of use, aesthetics, safety and productivity and performance. These five principles allow ergonomics to be grouped into three main areas; physical ergonomics, cognitive ergonomics and organizational ergonomics.

Physical ergonomics is a field of ergonomics that deals with how the body interacts with various equipment and tools in the workplace and how this interaction affects the body. This includes posture, the layout of the workplace, body posture, the health and safety of a workplace, disorders of the mucosal system and skeletal system and repetitive disorders.

Cognitive ergonomics deals with the ability of the mind to process information presented to a worker in a particular workplace, the associated motor functions (reactions), usage of memory, ability to make decisions, and other ‘mental tasks. This basically focuses on improving the interaction between workers and the way that data has been presented to them. This ranges from the placement of instructions and signs, visibility of instructions and even the interaction of humans and computers. This field is important for designing workplace systems and even websites that improve the presentation of data to workers and their retention, as well as reaction to that data.

Organizational ergonomics is the field of human factors that deal with the optimization of the work environment. This ranges from facilitating teamwork to quality management and quality management and analyzing teleworking arrangements.

The science of human factors applies to a wide range of disciplines. This is a critical element of most workplaces especially in fields that pose potential risks to employees. Mechanical engineering is an example of such a technical field. It is, therefore, important to analyze the importance of ergonomics to Mechanical Engineering.

The main importance of human factors in Mechanical engineering and any other field is to improve the health and safety in any workplace and improve the overall productivity of that workstation.  Human factors have helped reduce the rate of accidents for mechanical engineering. This has been made possible through a number of methods facilitated by the ergonomic studies. An example of such a method is the creation of equipment that are relatively efficient yet safer for the workers to use. This can be done by purchasing protective gear and even attaching instructions on all equipment to ensure that they are used in the correct manner.

The work place of a mechanical engineer has to be structured in a manner that allows the mechanical engineer to stretch every once in a while in order to avoid getting repetitive strain injury.  Ergonomics provides insight into how to structure the workstation of a mechanical engineer to avoid tension and stress of the body of the worker and related injuries.

Ergonomics also facilitates the use of good lighting in the workstation of an engineer. Good lighting is important so that a mechanical engineer can see what he or she is working with clearly. This minimizes the probability of accidents resulting from the mishandling of tools. The science of ergonomics has also enabled the design of workstations of mechanical engineers in such a way that minimizes glare from windows. This is important to preserve the good optical health of employees.

Ergonomics has ensured that different garages are equipped with a good number of fire extinguishers that are evenly distributed in the workstations. These are also closer to the mechanical engineers for easy access in the prevention of fire disasters. This placement of fire extinguisher in well designed workplaces extends beyond the garages to even the offices. This has proved very important especially because mechanical engineers work around inflammable materials such as soil. This has been complemented by the use of standard protective equipment to prevent bodily harm of mechanical engineers.

Ergonomics has also provided a better understanding of how much work the standard mechanical engineer can withstand before their body reaches a work limit. This has enabled the creation of shifts with reasonable hours to allow mechanical engineers to rest and replenish after a session of heavy work input. This ensures that the workers are always fit to work and it also reduces accidents that are related to fatigue. The creation of an efficient health system facilitates overall productivity of that particular work system.

A Mechanical Engineer’s work environment is very technical, and this means that the risk factor for physical accidents in such an environment is very high. The science of ergonomics has facilitates the development of a health system that addresses this high risk.  This is done, for example, by requiring that every worker has health insurance and making a risk assessment plan.

The human body only works optimally under certain conditions. The science.............


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