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human engineeringthe study of the interface between people and technology with the objective of achieving a better ‘fit’ between the two. The twin objectives of ergonomics are the interrelated ones of improvements in efficiency and the provision of better working conditions. For instance, an ergonomist would be concerned to ensure that a typist's chair is of the right height to avoid back and arm strains. As well as minimizing employee dissatisfaction this would prevent productivity from being impaired by physical injury. In more complex technological environments the ergonomist is also concerned with the distribution of functions between human operators and the technology itself.
Ergonomics grew out of SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT, one strand of which was concerned with the development of technology that could be matched to the task in hand and to the human physique, and human factor psychology (see OCCUPATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY), which was concerned with the impact of environmental factors on work performance.