From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Best of Ergoweb 2011

At the close of each year we like to review the previous year's web site statistics to learn what topics were most viewed. I hesitate to use the word "best" when describing the content, because I'm not sure some of the Ergonomics Today™ articles and Ergoweb Forum discussions/collaborations you see listed below represent our best work and collaborations, but they are the most "popular," or at least the most read, by's 280,000 visitors in 2011. 

Below we've compiled the top 5 Ergonomics Today™ legacy articles that continued to be read heavily in 2011 (some dating back as far as 2001); then the top 5 new articles published in 2011; then the top 5 Forum legacy discussions/collaborations (one initiated as far back as 2006); and finally the top 5 new discussions/collaborations published in 2011. 

I've added a few comments that came to mind as we compiled the results, and we encourage you to login and contribute your own comments to these artcles and discussions. It's never too late to improve upon these discussions or articles, so please contribute your thoughts, because people around the world are reading these, and your responsible contributions will be noticed and appreciated as they search for answers and assistance.

Top 5 Ergonomics Today™ Legacy Articles

  1. Opinion: Balls as Office Chairs a Bad Idea, April 11, 2005

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." And when someone tells you that a $19 ball will solve all of your back pain issues, you ought to be suspicious. And when they have the audacity to label that ball 'ergonomic' …

Comment: It's somewhat frustrating, yet very true, that this article has become one of the top internet-wide articles on the subject of using a ball as a chair, generating accolades from some, and sometimes-vicious scorn from others.

  1. Sit-to-Stand Workstations, August 31, 2010

Sit-to-Stand workstations for computer work are growing in popularity for many reasons, driving down cost and stimulating innovation. This article reviews key features to consider for sit-to-stand workstation design and provides examples of the current state-of-the-art options in the marketplace.

Comment: The popularity of this article is likely due to the growing body of evidence that sitting for extended periods of time may be hazardous to your health and longevity. Sit-to-stand workstations are the future, and the future is here.

  1. Ergoweb's Answer to 'What is an Ergonomics Injury', July 25, 2002

There is no such thing as an "ergonomics injury."  This question demonstrates a fundamental misconception about ergonomics.

Comment: We were pleasantly surprised to see this rise to top 5 status. I wrote this during the OSHA ergonomics standards debate, and we stand by it today. "Ergonomics is not the problem; it is the solution." It's sad that politics muddied the perceived value of ergonomics in the minds of business leaders, but it's never too late to get back on track by demonstrating and promoting the value of ergonomics.

  1. The NIOSH Lifting Equation: Q & A, July 23, 2002

Questions and Answers on the NIOSH Lifting Equation

  1. What is Cognitive Ergonomics?, June 11, 2002

Cognitive ergonomics focuses on the fit between human cognitive abilities and limitations and the machine, task and environment. Cognitive ergonomics is especially important in the design of complex, high-tech, or automated systems.


Top 5 New Ergonomics Today Articles

These results are skewed, because the articles published earlier in the year have had much more time to accrue readers than those published later in the year, but here are the latest results:

  1. Conclusion: What’s the Hubbub About Ball Chairs? Are They Really Ergonomic?March 9, 2011

This is the final article in a series started by guest contributor Ian Chong. In the first two articles Ian shares the thought process he and an informal task force of professionals and users from various backgrounds as they debated the merits of using a fitness / exercise ball as a substitute for an office task chair, or more specifically, the merits of calling such an intervention 'ergonomic'. The series continues to generate a great deal of interaction and comment from the Ergoweb Community and beyond. Read on to learn their conclusions …

  1. Michigan Fights Workplace ErgonomicsApril 21, 2011

Workplace ergonomics takes a beating in the USA State of Michigan as the legislature and governor pass a new law prohibiting the promulgation of ergonomics related workplace standards. Is it time for the ergonomics community to finally put politics aside and focus on proving our value to society?

Comments: I got a little worked-up and preachy in this article, but I still feel the same. The ergonomics marketplace needs a trade organization. Further, I believe we would do well to focus our efforts on demonstrating the value we bring, so that businesses and consumers will voluntarily recognize and embrace our products and services, and focus less on the politics of forcing businesses to "do as we say."

  1. Ergonomics Roundup: Office Layout; Railroad Ergonomics Law Suit; Healthcare; So-Called Ergonomic Products?, May 11, 2011

A roundup of ergonomics in the news, including a railroad employee that's suing his employer for not having a comprehensive ergonomics program, evidence of the expansion of ergonomics in the healthcare industry, open vs. closed office layouts, an "ergonomic scratcher" [for cats!?], and an "ergonomic exercise chair."

  1. Are These Products Ergonomic?April 6, 2011

There's been a lot of talk within the ergonomics community lately about the use of the word "ergonomic(s)" or "ergonomically designed" in product marketing claims. There's an evolving consensus that the ergonomics community "needs to do something," but what exactly needs to be done to protect the public from dubious or false claims remains to be seen. Peter Budnick reviews a variety of products being marketed as ergonomic and poses some interesting questions to stimulate your thoughts.

  1. Cost Benefits and ROIs from Ergonomics, August 3, 2011

If ergonomics is seen as a cost, many will reject it. If it is seen as an improvement opportunity with measurable gains, many will embrace it. This article points to cost-benefit analysis tools that can help you prove the value of ergonomics to others.

Comment: ergonomics = value, and value is something everyone can understand.


Top 5 Legacy Forum Collaborations

  1. Industry standard for Desk Height, started May 23, 2006

The desk height standard used by our vendor (in California) for installing workstations has been lowered from 29 1/2 " to 28 1/2". Should this be a concern to me?

Comment: We were surprised to learn that this discussion has become one of the primary pages google points to when a searcher is looking into desk heights. We recently published two articles on this subject in our subscription content service, The Ergonomics Report, and I added my own thoughts to this discussion last month — please feel free to do so if you feel you can assist those researching the question.

  1. Office lighting solutions for migraines and seizures, started August 21, 2008

I have a client with a call center office environment with very limited natural light.  Several employees suffer from migraine headaches and one has a seizure disorder.  There is concern that the lighting may be contributing to symptoms for these employees …

  1. Two-person lift team, started January 26, 2007

What methods are available to evaluate occasionally performed tasks in which a two person lift team is used to pick up, carry a short distance and then place compact, stable but heavy loads? …

  1. overhead cubicle light shield, started March 3, 2010

Does anyone have experience with creating/using a shield to block a light fixture which is directly in the visual field and just behind a user's monitor?  The facility management is investigating cubicle and light fixture placement but …

  1. Humanscale Body Measurements Templates by Henry Dreyfuss & Associates, started May 24, 2009

I would be very grateful if anyone could help me-I have been trying to source the 9 Humanscale Body Measurements Templates by Henry Dreyfuss & Associates …

Top 5 New Forum Collaborations

  1. micro-breaks and rest breaks, started February 3, 2011, with 6 responses at the time of this writing

I have seen different guidelines on microbreak and rest breaks. what do you all feel are the most accurate recommendations …

  1. Sitting, started January 13, 2011, with 6 responses at the time of this writing

In general would you say the joints at the elbows, hips and knees should be ninety degrees or flatter when sitting?

  1. Trying to address ergonomic seating issues… but things are getting worse!, started Sep 24, 2011, with 4 responses at the time of this writing

I sit a lot at a computer desk and recently decided to address the ergonomics of my set up, as well as look into things like correct posture, etc.  I have no specific health issues I wanted to address, I was coming more from a prevention is better than cure angle!  Saying that, like many people I do have a sore back/neck quite often after long periods at the computer, as well as the odd niggling pains now and then …

  1. Cell Phone Injuries, started Jun 27, 2011, with 5 responses at the time of this writing

Has anyone come across recent articles on cell phones and how texting is causing injury?

  1. Control room ergonomics started Feb 17, 2011, with 2 responses at the time of this writing

In our organization we are currently reviewing the workplaces in a control room with many PC stations. Which guidelines are most recommended at present to assess the ergonomics of those workplaces in regard to general layout, team communications and screen layout?


That's it for 2011! Here's to a happy and prosperous 2012 for you and yours!