Ergonomics (or human factors) has been defined as the application of scientific information concerning objects, systems, and environment for human use (International Ergonomics Association, 2007). Ergonomics is commonly thought of in terms of how companies design tasks and work areas to maximize the efficiency and quality of their employees' work. However, ergonomics comes into everything which involves people and technology and largely concerns the physical and cognitive interactions between people and their respective creations. Helander (1997) specified three important targets for ergonomics design activity: to improve (1) safety; (2) productivity; and (3) operator satisfaction. It is important to note that the targets for ergonomics design are constantly evolving and what Helander stated now more than a decade ago may already seem outdated to many, yet unattainable to others. To understand the changes that are rapidly occurring in this evolving area of science, it is important, first, to briefly look back at the tremendous progress and change of focus that occurred in work and work design over the past century and especially recent decades.
Trends in ergonomics
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, it is the work of two individuals, Ramazzinni and Jastrzebowski, that is almost alone in being solely directed to the study of work design and ergonomics. Bernardino Ramazzinni was an Italian physician (1633–1714) who, based on his medical practice and experience, wrote what is considered to be the first report on work-related complaints.