CUELA measuring system
Source: IFA

Ergonomics is the science 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 performance, etc.), demographic trends and flexibilisation of work (work at any place at any time) have also been accompanied by changes in the ergonomic focus.

Research, training and consulting

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

The IFA (Institute for Occupational Health and Safety) houses an ergonomics laboratory and a laboratory for research into the human-machine interface. It is here that scientists  from the fields of medicine, biomechanics, sports science, biology, engineering sciences, physics, human factors, psychology 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 IAG´s (Institute for Work and Health) work focuses on the design of workplaces for employees of different ages or in different phases of life and on the topic of healthy working time organization. Closely related to the latter topic is the influence of non-visual effects of light on health - for example during night and shift work. Particular emphasis is placed on the transfer of scientific findings to practical scenarios. The IAG supports transfer processes using so-called "practical facilities". These provide a platform for the analysis and solution of issues and questions from the field which are answered in seminars and consultations for companies and the German Social Accident Insurance institutions.  Model workplaces for assembly (PDF, 128 kB, non-accessible) and office work (in German only) are examples for those practical facilities, and show that ergonomically well-designed workplaces contribute significantly to prevention across all age groups – including older employees.


"Ergonomic work design: consultation for companies / research"
Prof Dr Rolf Ellegast
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA)
Ergonomics Coordinator, Deputy Director
Tel.: +49 30 13001-3005

"Musculoskeletal workload - Biomechanics"
Dr Kai Heinrich
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA)
Musculoskeletal Workload
Ergonomics Physical Environmental Factors
Tel.: +49 30 13001-3450

"Innovative work design and measuring methods in ergonomics"
Dr Britta Weber und Dr Christoph Schiefer
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA)
Innovative Work Design
Tel.: +49 30 13001-3030/3040
Dr. Britta Weber
Dr. Christoph Schiefer

"Ergonomics and demographic change, healthy working time design."
Dr Hanna Zieschang
Institute for Work and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IAG)
Work Design - Demography
Tel.: +49 30 13001-2240

"Human-machine interface"
Dr Peter Nickel
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) 
Accident Prevention: Digitalisation – Technologies
Tel. +49 30 13001-3514

"Work Organization"
Hannah Huxholl
Safety and Health Department
Work-related health hazards
Tel. +49 30 13001-4587