The Psychological Side of Ergonomics
by Matt Gilliam, AEP
The physical factors of ergonomic risk can often be easily identified in the workplace. High forces and awkward postures can be observed, as well as the potentially harmful effects they have on workers (pain, WMSDs, lost time injuries). However there is another side of ergonomics worth noting: the psychological effects.
Psychological effects are a little more discreet but the can be costly. Poor workstation design can lead to increased cycle times, lower quality of work, as well as exposure to high forces and awkward postures, thereby increasing the amount of psychological stress placed on an individual at work. Stress can also arise from the poor design of controls and displays that make it difficult for the operator to interpret information. Added stress can directly influence a worker’s behavior. Studies have shown that prolonged stress can lead to a decrease in cognitive function and human performance.
When assessing ergonomic risk, consider not only the physical, but also the psychological impact on your workforce.