Ergonomics

CUELA measuring system
Source: IFA

Ergonomics is the theory of human work. Put simply, ergonomics focuses on ensuring humane working conditions by adapting the following elements of work to humans:

  • Work equipment;
  • Work organization;
  • Working environment.
Ergonomics is an interdisciplinary science. The experts from a wide variety of specialist disciplines employed at the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) and German social accident insurance institutions cover the entire spectrum of fields touched on by ergonomics.

The German Occupational Safety and Health Act (ArbSchG) explicitly mentions the humane design of work as an important area of company responsibility. Consideration of ergonomic issues has always been of key relevance to the DGUV and its members.

Economic and social change

Changes in the world of work (e.g. increasing cases of musculoskeletal complaints as a result of sedentary jobs, new demands in terms of mental capacity, etc.), demographic trends and longer working lives (necessitating good health from kindergarten to retirement age) have also been accompanied by changes in areas of ergonomic emphasis.

Research, training and consulting

The DGUV faces these challenges by carrying out intensive applied research at its IFA and IAG institutes.

The IFA (Institute for Occupational Health and Safety) houses an ergonomics laboratory and a laboratory for research into the man-machine interface. It is here that scientists  from the fields of medicine, biomechanics, sports science, biology, engineering sciences, physics and the social sciences carry out applied research into ergonomic work design together with numerous domestic and international ergonomic research institutes and in close cooperation with the German social accident insurance institutions. Research findings are incorporated directly into practical guidelines for companies or implemented in practical scenarios as part of in-plant consulting projects. The IFA also develops methods of ergonomic measurement which can subsequently be applied directly by ergonomics experts from the German social accident insurance institutions in day-to-day practical scenarios in order to optimize in-plant processes. Ergonomic measurement data is archived centrally in the IFA’s databases and made available to researchers in the fields of both prevention and the detection of occupational diseases.

The main area of ergonomics focus at the IAG (Institute for Work and Health) is the design of workplaces for older employees and employees whose health represents a restriction on their ability to work. Particular emphasis is placed on the transfer of scientific findings to practical scenarios. The IAG supports transfer processes using so-called "practical facilities", which provide a platform for the examination and solution of practical issues within the framework of seminars and consultations for companies and the German social accident insurance institutions. Model workplaces for assembly and office work are one example of those practical facilities, and show that ergonomically well-designed workplaces make a significant contribution to prevention across all age groups – including older employees.

The DGUV passes on new findings within the framework of both further training and consulting services provided to companies and the German social accident insurance institutions.


Contact

"Ergonomics for older employees and employees whose health represents a restriction on their ability to work."

Dr. Hanna Zieschang
Institute for Work and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IAG)
Work Design - Demography
Tel.: 0351 457-1610

"Ergonomic work design: consultation for companies / research"

Dr.Dirk Ditchen
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA)
Ergonomics Physical Environmental Factors
Tel.: 02241 231-2605

Prof. Dr. Rolf Ellegast
Deputy Director
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA)
Tel.: 02241 231-2705

"Man-machine interfacre"

Dr. Michael Huelke
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) 
New technologies
Tel. 02241/231-2644