Green ergonomics; it’s a bit of a trendy term these days, but what does it actually mean? And why, when the term alone sounds suspiciously expensive, would a business bother?
Well, despite sounding costly, green ergonomics promotes good health and saves money.
Recent research from industrial ergonomists and members of the US Green Building Council shows that proactive ergonomics included in green building design to promote occupant health and productivity, can lead to significantly lower incident costs related to lost time and medical costs. This in turn leads to sustainable workforce and economic sustainability of organisations.
“Really?” you say, “That’s all well and good, but what actually is green ergonomics?”
I think the easiest way to describe green ergonomics is as a combination of ergonomics and sustainability.
“A-ha” you say, “That’s all well and good but actually what is ergonomics?!”
Ergonomics is essentially the applied science of fitting work tasks and working environments to people.
“OK, so what about sustainability?” Well, sustainability is another ‘in’ word at the moment and is applied to just about anything and everything. In a workplace or workspace environment however, it can be viewed as creating buildings which use less energy, using products which can be recycled or are made from recycled materials, using materials from a renewable source and creating systems which allow us to use less materials more efficiently.
And while the term ‘recycled materials’ may conjure up visions of shoddy buildings and furniture cobbled together, think again. Inspired to do something positive post-quake, the folk behind Rekindle in Christchurch’s New Regent Street sell items solely made from recycled materials. Of course, if purchasing furniture, it would pay to check that ergonomically items will be right for you!
Sustainability also comes with a feel good factor and can be taken up to a global level (in terms of transport options, building, manufacturing and so on) or become a part of an organisation’s culture at a local level.
Combine ergonomics and sustainability and you have green ergonomics; the integration of ergonomics into sustainable development to “enhance human performance, health and well being at both the individual and systems level.” Heerwagen and Zagreus, 2005
So, with that in mind, why would you or any organisation who might be contemplating a new office or workplace bother?
Again, quite simply put, when green ergonomics is proven to be good for your health and good for your business, why wouldn’t you?