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  Table of Contents 
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 100

Application of principles of ergonomics in medicine

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication12-Dec-2014

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.146901

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Application of principles of ergonomics in medicine. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2014;18:100

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Application of principles of ergonomics in medicine. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2014 [cited 2022 Oct 5];18:100. Available from:


In the occupational health arena, ergonomics refers to the multiple scientific measures which are implemented to enhance the compatibility between the workplace and the worker. [1] These measures are employed after considering worker's potential and restrictions within the workplace environment so that both safety and workers related parameters (namely, comfort, job satisfaction, efficiency, etc.) can be significantly revamped. [2],[3] Furthermore, the ergonomists have to evaluate the type of work and the demands on the worker; the device used (namely, size, shape, and suitability for the work); and the information used (how it is presented, accessed, and modified), before making final recommendations. [2],[4]

The application of ergonomics goes way beyond industrial sector and finds multiple utility in the health sector. Ergonomics allows designing of appropriate layout of workplace; [5] facilitation of healthy work culture (namely, by addressing issues of workload management, shortage of health personnel, and delivery of health related message); [6] employing interactive medical devices; [7] reduction in job related psychological stress; [8] minimizing medication errors; [9] augmenting safety of patients; [10],[11] and even marketing of medicinal commodities. [12]

However, in the modern era the prime interest of ergonomics is to negate work related stressors in order to avoid any health related adverse outcome. [3] These work stressors (namely, forceful exertions, static postures, poor work-station design, etc.) facilitates development of cumulative injuries and thus increases the risk of multiple musculo-skeletal disorders. [4] Furthermore, other health related consequences like chemical/biological/psychosocial hazards, malignancies, accidents, and sickness absenteeism has also been associated with absence of ergonomics. [1],[2],[4]

Considering the wide range of untoward aftermaths associated, there is an indispensable need to streamline the complete process of health care to enable implementation of ergonomically proven measures. [2] This essentially comprises of designing a proper layout for the workplace; increasing awareness about occupational hazards and use of personal protective equipments among health workers; advocating measures for improvement of sanitation within the health care establishments; encouraging periodic clinical assessment of health staffs; and adoption of appropriate engineering measures to facilitate mechanization, reduce work load, and thus enhance patient safety. [1],[2],[6],[10],[11]

In conclusion, in order to improve the health standards of both health workers and patients, there is a definitive need to implement a holistic strategy built on the principles of ergonomics in the health sector.

  References Top

Park K. Occupational Health. In: Park K, editor. Text book of preventive and social medicine. 20 th ed. Jabalpur: Banarsidas Bhanot Publishers; 2009. p. 708-19.  Back to cited text no. 1
Izumi H. The role of ergonomics in occupational health-past and future. J UOEH 2013;35(Suppl):127-31.  Back to cited text no. 2
Wilson JR. Fundamentals of systems ergonomics/human factors. Appl Ergon 2014;45:5-13.  Back to cited text no. 3
Rehman R, Khan R, Surti A, Khan H. An ounce of discretion is worth a pound of wit--ergonomics is a healthy choice. PLoS One 2013;8:e71891.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ferris TK. Evidence-based design and the fields of human factors and ergonomics: Complementary systems-oriented approaches to healthcare design. HERD 2013;6:3-5.  Back to cited text no. 5
Rogers B, Buckheit K, Ostendorf J. Ergonomics and nursing in hospital environments. Workplace Health Saf 2013;61:429-39.  Back to cited text no. 6
Vincent CJ, Li Y, Blandford A. Integration of human factors and ergonomics during medical device design and development: It's all about communication. Appl Ergon 2014;45:413-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
Punnett L, Warren N, Henning R, Nobrega S, Cherniack M; CPH-NEW research team. Participatory ergonomics as a model for integrated programs to prevent chronic disease. J Occup Environ Med 2013;55:S19-24.  Back to cited text no. 8
Leape LL, Bates DW, Cullen DJ, Cooper J, Demonaco HJ, Gallivan T, et al. Systems analysis of adverse drug events. ADE Prevention Study Group. JAMA 1995;274:35-43.  Back to cited text no. 9
Hignett S, Masud T. A review of environmental hazards associated with in-patient falls. Ergonomics 2006;49:605-16.  Back to cited text no. 10
Carayon P, Xie A, Kianfar S. Human factors and ergonomics as a patient safety practice. BMJ Qual Saf 2014;23:196-205.  Back to cited text no. 11
Norris B, West J, Anderson O, Davey G, Brodie A. Taking ergonomics to the bedside--a multi-disciplinary approach to designing safer healthcare. Appl Ergon 2014;45:629-38.  Back to cited text no. 12


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