Advances in Occupational Ergonomics and Safety


Kumar, S.

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Ergonomics touches every man, woman and child each day of their lives whether they recognise it or not. Ergonomics (or lack of it) plays a more significant role in the lives of about two-thirds of the world’s population over 10 years of age who work for one-third of their lives to make a living. There are 120 million occupational accidents and injuries and 200,000 fatalities each year according to WHO 95. Occupational accidents, injuries and fatalities are undesired events. The occupational activities are planned and designed, and executed with a purpose under supervision but accidents are not. Hence it stands to reason that better planning, design and execution will help to reduce these undesirable outcomes. One must also recognise that under global scheme of biological evolution, the human beings were not designed to endure a life long exposure to artificial activities repetitively. Thus occupational health problems are inevitable if we do not return to nature for our sustenance. As a society, we have chosen to live and work as we do. In fact, there is a far rapid evolution (mutation and speciation) of occupations than of any biological organism. This places us in a situation where better planning, design and execution of our occupational activities have become absolute necessity. However, since ergonomics is a modifier and not a causal factor, its significance does not become immediately apparent to us. Perhaps it is for this reason that even in developed world occupational health services are available to between 20% to 50% of the work force and less than 10% of the workforce in the developing countries. Occupational health services are remedial approaches. The rational wisdom of the human race should strive to get proactive control of undesirable outcomes through ergonomics. Unfortunately, it is sadly lacking even today. On an optimistic note one can observe that its presence and application is slowly increasing.