National Ergonomics Month: The Goal Is to Improve People’s Lives

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society a Key Backer of Annual Observance

OCTOBER IS NATIONAL ERGONOMICS MONTH, and two organizations are leading the charge to promote good ergonomics in the workplace and, ultimately, improve the lives of people all around the world.The Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary defines ergonomics as “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely — called also human engineering, human factors engineering.”

The 14th National Ergonomics Month (NEM) is an awareness-building campaign designated by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) — — as a way to highlight the work of professionals engaged in human factors/ergonomics (HF/E). According to the society, diverse work in the arena of HF/E contributes to the design, testing, operation, maintenance, and sustainability of products, tools, systems, and environments for human use. Categories of products, systems, and environments include:

  • Patient safety, including the design of medical devices, guidance regarding handoffs and other procedures, facility design, and home care
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence, including the study and design of collaborative robotic teammates
  • Security and cybersecurity, including intelligence analysis and airport screening
  • Surface and air transportation, including autonomous and semiautonomous vehicles, driver assistance systems, driver distraction, commercial aircraft systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

National Ergonomics Month has inspired a variety of activities by ergonomics-focused students and professionals in communities all over the country. For example, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach once hosted the Engaging Retail to Grasp Opportunity (ERGO) action plan, in which the group analyzed warehouse environments and provided training for employee self-protection on the job. This is practical work for a state — Florida — that increasingly is becoming home to major warehousing, distribution, and mail-order fulfillment operations, such as those operated by Amazon and Walmart.

Ergonomics in the office, where many people are tied to a desk and work at a computer for long periods each day, is a growing concern and a growing area of research and analysis — particularly in the area of sitting and standing work. (See some recent research results from Cornell University at For its part in National Ergonomics Month, The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is offering a Web-based seminar — a webinar — titled “Sit vs. Stand: Ergonomics Research and Guidelines.” The webinar overview states:

“Sit-stand workstations have been introduced by many organizations as a way to reduce musculoskeletal disorders. The body of evidence regarding working posture and health outcomes is ever growing and changing. This webinar explores current evidence, trends and solutions for creating a comfortable work environment that allows for changes in postures. We will also touch on … the legal practices surrounding ADAAA [ADA Amendments Act of 2008] accommodation, considerations for choosing standardized furniture, and other options available to employees besides height-adjustable furniture.”