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Ergonomics and Sustainability
– James R. Hagan, PhD, MS
During the second day of the 2008 National Ergonomic Conference and Exposition, the keynote address focused on the sustainability of the worker population as it relates to ergonomics. Hagan defined sustainability as: Allowing future generations to have the same standard of living that we enjoy while improving the condition of the current generation. Today’s most progressive and best companies are saying sustainability is good for their customers, company, community, and environment.
The implementation of an ergonomics program leads to more effective, more efficient, less wasteful, and more productive employees. The best companies design manufacturing environments that are flexible to change and are designed to fit a wide range of individuals to increase use and lifespan. This reduces the need for costly retrofits as needs change. The automobile industry is seeing this problem on a large scale now as they try to change manufacturing lines to more fuel efficient cars. Flexibility is even more important now to design for an aging population, advances in technology, and a global population of workers. Ergonomic design is best done through efficient collaboration among ergonomists and engineers as they share information in order to reduce waste. Implementation of best known methods leads to getting more designs right the first time.
Through sustainable practices, companies can make a positive impact on their bottom line and future generations of humans.
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