History of Ergonomics

Unaware of the publication of Jastrzebowski, 1857 the first use of the term “ergonomics” in the year 1949 by the end of the 60s of the last century is returned (see eg. B. Laurig ).

The corresponding and thus independent of Jastrzebowski, the second proposal of a combination of two Greek root words “ergon” (work) and “nomos” (usually law) for the identification of a new, scientifically-to-understand discipline for the study of problems of human labor, comes from Murrell (see, eg. B. Foreword in Murrell ).

He made this proposal in the context of the emergence of 1949 in England established, interdisciplinary research group, the original heading “Human Research Society” in 1950 changed to “Ergonomics Research Society” under this proposal. From an in Edholm and Murrell , however, is documented source of 1949 also shows that Murrell “nomos” as “law” and “relationship with the environment” understands what in the subtitle of his book “Ergonomics. Man in his working environment ” is expressed ( Murrell ).

The term “Ergonomics” sat down mainly by the fact the good transferability to other languages by. In addition, they were interested in having the designation revealed no preference for one of the three understood as essential “mother science” physiology, psychology and functional anatomy.

From this consideration, but at the same time the self-image of the former founder of ergonomics, which included besides Murrell another scientist, clearly: ergonomics should unite classical, scientific working human sciences in themselves.

In the introduction MURRELL’s ” Ergonomics are as further sources of ergonomic knowledge in addition to the industrial hygiene “(now part of occupational medicine) nor the physics and (” to some extent “) called the engineering sciences. The statutes of the already mentioned “Ergonomics Research Society” summed up the goals of ergonomics together later than:

“… Explores the relationship between man and his work, equipment and environment, in particular through application of anatomical, physiological and psychological knowledge to the resulting problems”.

The engineering sciences are in this declaration of interests of ergonomics but neither expressly listed as occupational medicine.

The international spread of the concept of ergonomics (>>> definitions of ergonomics) was mainly due to the appearing since 1957 (mainly English) journal “ERGONOMICS”. In 1959 then saw the establishment of an ” International Ergonomic Society – IEA ” ). Summarized in more than 20 national societies are (as the national society of the Federal Republic of Germany is the ” Society for Work Science – GFA “member of the IEA).

In a related development, the term “ergonomics” in the present should not go unmentioned that has been in Japan (based on the “Japan Ergonomics Research Society”) still developed alongside the term “ergonomics” a “Human Ergology” by (the will represent) – a “human Ergology Research Association” – founded in 1970. In contrast to the ergonomics especially the physiological component of human labor is emphasized in the ergology that is supplemented by consideration of anthropological aspects.

The engineer-scientific and technical point of view of an application in terms of job design resigns contrast. The term “ergology” is attributed to an idea of the German physiologist Haeckel (1834-1919), who wanted to mark the first ideas to an anthropologically justified physiology of the working people (see Kogi ).


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