ERGONOMICS OF MATERIAL HANDLING
Karl H. E. Kroemer
Human Factors Engineering Center Industrial and Systems Engineering Department, Virginia Tech (VPI&SU) Blacksburg, Virginia 24061-0118, USA
The goal of Human Factors/Ergonomics is "humanization" of working and living conditions. This goal can be symbolized by the "Ergonomic Double E" of Ease and Efficiency for which technological systems, and all their elements, should be designed. This requires knowledge of characteristics of the people involved, particularly of their dimensions, capabilities, and limitations; and the conscientious engineering and managerial application of this knowledge. Altogether, there are seven key issues that must be balanced to achieve ease and efficiency in manual load handling: facility layout, job design, equipment design and selection, consideration of people involved, training, screening, and die design of work place and work task.
Ergonomic information on many of these aspects used to be scattered throughout the literature; a systematic approach to combine all knowledge into one set of comprehensive guidelines was needed. This has been achieved now for each of the seven keys of efficient and safe material handling.
In principle, ergonomics can be applied both in the original design of material handling systems and in the modification of existing ones. Application of ergonomic knowledge ensures prudent use of human capabilities and abilities, and safeguards people from overexertion and undue strain.
Ergonomics can be used in two major strategies:
· Fitting the person to the job. This means selection of individuals for their ability to perform certain tasks, and training of these persons to perform their tasks better, more safely.
· Fitting the job to the person. Here, the task, equipment, and work organization are adjusted to fit human capabilities, limitations, and preferences.
Especially in material handling, both approaches can be used at the same time to supplement each other. However, fitting the job to the person has highest priority.