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Ergonomics (from Greek ergon work and nomoi natural laws) is the study of designing objects to be better adapted to the shape of the human body and/or to correct the user's posture. Common examples include chairs designed to prevent the user from sitting in positions that may have a detrimental effect on the spine, and the ergonomic desk which offers an adjustable keyboard tray, a main desktop of variable height and other elements which can be changed by the user.

Ergonomics also helps with the design of alternative computer input devices for people who want to avoid repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome. A normal computer keyboard tends to force users to keep their hands together and hunch their shoulders. To prevent the injuries, or to give relief to people who already have symptoms, special split keyboards, curved keyboards, not-really-keyboards keyboards, and other alternative input devices exist.

Ergonomics is much larger than looking at the physiological and anatomical aspects of the human being. The psychology of humans is also a key element within the ergonomics discipline. Understanding design in terms of cognitive workload, human error, the way humans perceive their surrounds and, very importantly, the tasks that they undertake are all analysed by ergonomists.

Manual handling

The NIOSH Work Practices Guide for Manual Handling, Technical report nš 81122, NIOSH, Cincinati, Ohio, 1981 is a reference in this field.

See also: Aeron chair, computer accessibility, Sick Building Syndrome, Occupational safety and health, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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