From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics Roundup: Food Service Design; Eye Strain; Enabling Search Engine; Disability Accommodations; People; Humor


I came across this article dealing with foodservice kitchen design and was impressed at how well the author captured the benefits of ergonomics, including the customer experience, and how well he portrayed those benefits, and ergonomics in general, to other designers. Here are a few excerpts from an article by Juan Martinez, writing for Food Service Equipment and Supplies:

Designs should start with the human being as the center of the effort.

It is absolutely critical to think about the capabilities of human beings throughout your design efforts. As designers, we constantly need to be aware that it’s the employees who allow us to help the concepts deliver their brand promise. And that is why employee centric designs facilitate the delivery of customer service and hospitality, which result in the sales and profits that fuel the growth of individual concepts.

Following these ergonomic principles will result in a much more robust and efficient design, driving gains in productivity, let alone reductions in employee fatigue as the employees are using it. The bottom line is that employee-centric designs will result in higher productivity.

… when designing, it is important to choose a target population …

Considering employee ergonomic characteristics and limitations, will result in the design of better concepts, better pieces of equipment, better layouts.

I get surprised many times, when I look at some kitchens and how devices are put together; almost in a haphazard way, without consideration to the individual ergonomics characteristics, nor the processes and procedures. And we are expecting the crew to be able to use it efficiently.

[Applying ergonomics] allows you develop a better design – one that can deliver higher level of profits through optimized customer hospitality and better service to the guests. 

 Read the full article …


Do E-Readers Cause Eye Strain?

That’s a question on the minds of many consumers, and many ergonomists. Below are a few excerpts from an article by Nick Bilton, writing in The New York Times, including a quote from ergonomist (and member of Ergoweb’s editorial board) Alan Hedge:

The admonition offered by legions of mothers — “Don’t sit so close to the TV” — isn’t really an option when it comes to e-reading devices. You have to get close to the screen to use it.

“Most of what our mothers told us about our eyes was wrong,” said Dr. Travis Meredith, chair of the ophthalmology department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “Sitting close to a television, or computer screen, isn’t bad for our eyes. It’s a variety of other factors that can cause physical fatigue.”

For example, the ergonomics of reading screens and the lack of blinking when we stare at them play a big role in eye fatigue. “The current problem with reading on screens is that we need to adjust our bodies to our computer screens, rather than the screens adjusting to us,” Dr. Meredith said.

Professor Alan Hedge, director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Cornell University, said that reducing eye fatigue is less a matter of choosing a specific display than of taking short breaks from looking at the screen.

When we read, Dr. Hedge explained,  a series of ocular muscles jump around and can cause strain, regardless of whether we are looking at pixels or paper. “While you’re reading, your eyes make about 10,000 movements an hour. It’s important to take a step back every 20 minutes and let your eyes rest,” he said.

Read the full article – A search Engine With Ergonomics Aimed at Older Adults

I learned of this from a short article on I was so intrigued I contacted the developer, Sunmee Huh. Sunmee is a junior in high school. Sunmee and her sister watched as their grandfather struggled with his searches on various search engines. They realized he was having difficulty reading the text, and that he was unable to distinguish the advertisements, which sometimes appear in a lightly shaded area at the top of the search results, from the organic search results. With very little programming experience under her belt, she went to work to help her grandfather and other older adults (and perhaps other people with limited or impaired vision). She adapted Google’s free Custom Search Engine by increasing the size of the search box and by moving and clearly marking all advertisements to the right side. She also made the site Safesearch-enabled, so adult-oriented search results will theoretically not show up. She also added a setting on the top of search results pages so you can enlarge the results to up to 200% of the default size, although the functionality only works in Internet Explorer at this time (she’s working on getting it to work with other browsers).

This is not rocket science, but it is very impressive for a high school student — one that I hope will one day join our ranks in the ergonomics and human factors profession. And she takes her efforts a step further by donating all of the advertising revenue generated when users click the sponsored ads to a "good cause," which is currently Haiti earthquake relief. See it and use it at:


Think Beyond the Label

I stumbled across this video, which humorously asks employers to "Think Beyond the Label." That lead me to an organization of the same name and a tagline "Evolve your Workforce".  They’re doing great things to promote hiring people with disabilities. Ergonomists often play a critical role in designing workstation accommodations for such employees. Here’s an excerpt from their "About Us" statement:

Think Beyond the LabelSM is committed to making the business case for employing people with disabilities. We are a partnership of health and human service and employment agencies with federal grants, coming together to build a uniform national infrastructure and approach that connects businesses to qualified candidates with disabilities. Our goal is simple: to raise awareness that hiring people with disabilities makes good business sense. See their web site …

Watch their humorous video …


Are you sitting comfortably?

I’ve recently seen numerous references to a survey conducted by an event producer in the Middle East. The Office Exhibition, described as "the only exhibition of its kind in the Middle East," ran February 9-11, in Dubai. They’ve done a good job of promoting their show, and the concept of office ergonomics, given the number of press mentions I’ve seen. Here’s an example article from

A recent survey undertaken by The Office Exhibition, which questioned over 1,000 office workers from across the GCC, indicated that almost 90 per cent regard the design and layout of their office as affecting their level of motivation. However, only 50 per cent of this margin revealed that they had ever received a workplace assessment. Read the full article …



Several of our colleagues recently landed new positions — congratulations:

Beecher Carlson … announced today the appointment of Tim Davidson as Senior Vice President, Risk Services. Davidson will focus on the coordination and delivery of ZOOM projects to ensure the attainment of goals as defined by each unique client business plan. Read the press release …

[David Rose is] Very excited about embarking on my new career with Marsh Risk Consulting and being part of a top-notch organization. See David’s LinkedIn profile …

Dan Baker has joined Veterinary Transplant Services, Inc. as a Staff Scientist, where he will assist with new product development, research, IP, product analysis, package design, equipment qualifications, process validations for animal bone and tissue transplant material (aseptically processed and frozen or freeze-dried delivery). He splits his time with the consulting firm, Kinetic Research & Design, Inc., which specializes in the early-phase development of medical products and specializing in implantable devices for orthopaedic and neurosurgical applications. See Dan’s LinkedIn profile …

Here’s an example of what one person can do to spread the benefits of ergonomics in their own community. In this case, Dana Root will share her ergonomics knowledge with her fellow knitters in the Greater Milwaukee Knitting Guild:

Dana Root, a board certified ergonomist and a licensed physical therapist, will share her passion for ergonomics and her love of knitting. The knitter will learn … Read the full article …

 And here’s a research funding announcement:

University professor Guy Boy, director of Florida Institute of Technology’s Center for Interaction Design in the College of Engineering, has received an award of more than $1 million over four years from AREVA, an international energy company that offers solutions for nuclear power generation. Under the grant, Boy will research and supervise two doctoral students on the ergonomics and human factors in the design and development of nuclear power plant control and management. He will apply his expertise in safety-critical systems, cognitive engineering and human-centered design to the project. See the full announcement …



What if stop signs didn’t yet exist and you were hired by a major corporation to invent one? This video humorously captures the challenges of  participating on a design team:

See the video …