What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Ergonomics?

Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The many advantages of ergonomics include employee comfort, higher efficiency, an increase in job accuracy, a decrease in work-related injuries and less employee fatigue. The disadvantages include a higher upfront cost and the difficulty of customizing office furniture and work-related accessories to meet individual specifications, according to Reference.com. Ergonomics is the science of fitting employees to work-related furniture, office accessories and machinery to produce optimum comfort and productivity.

An employee’s work environment often determines how much work is accomplished and its degree of accuracy. Poor lighting, uncomfortable seating, appropriate temperature and an inconvenient arrangement of work space potentially lead to uncomfortable and unhappy workers. According to About.com, comfortable workers are more energized, tend to make fewer mistakes and tire less easily. Ergonomically friendly working conditions also result in fewer work-related injuries, said Reference.com, reporting on a study by the U.S. Human Factors Society Select Committee on the Future of Human Factors. Problems with carpal tunnel and other repetitive motion injuries, back injuries and vision problems are among the work-related health issues that result from poor ergonomics. In the end, utilizing proper ergonomics in the work place benefits the employer by increasing productivity.

However, an ergonomic workplace does not come without a cost. Initially, the employer has to be willing to pay for the cost of ergonomic analysis and implementation. The furniture and machinery is often costlier than the generic types. Because individuals have different needs, office furnishings in an ergonomic workplace are not one-size-fits-all. Customization is often necessary and comes with a price tag as well. For instance, certain types of chairs that are perfect for one person do not work well for another. In the long run, however, upfront expenses generally are offset by the advantages gained from the utilization of ergonomics.