Ergonomics at work

Cognitive ergonomics: what is it, what is it for

Ergonomía cognitiva

Since we like to talk about ergonomics today we want to explain a related concept: cognitive ergonomics.

Cognitive ergonomics studies how to enable jobs to prevent workers from making mistakes when performing their tasks or having a lot of effort to carry them out.

For example, if you think of your house, the light keys are located in places that are convenient for you to turn the light on or off when you move. The remote control of the TV has the buttons distributed in such a way that it is easy for you to change the channel. Everything is optimized to make your life easier. In this case, a wrong button is nothing, but in the case of an air traffic controller, a wrong button could be a fatal error, and for this reason it is important that the spaces help as much as possible to avoid these errors.

What is cognitive ergonomics?

We can say that cognitive ergonomics is the branch of ergonomics that applies design psychology to work spaces so that employees can perform their tasks comfortably and efficiently, avoiding possible human errors.

For this, sensations, perception, attention and memory are studied, since all of them are conditioned by the space that surrounds them. For example, a red button among many other black buttons will stand out more than any other.

As you can imagine, this type of ergonomics is used especially for the development of electronic devices or vehicles, but it is also very important when creating a workspace, that is, creating your office.

There are many day-to-day details that we can take into account and that may seem like small things but that require prior planning, especially the more stressful the job has, such as airplane pilots or doctors.

human errors at work

Many times transport accidents or accidents in factories do not occur because the building or the vehicle is in poor condition or because the employee does not know how to do his job well. They are caused by human error. Cognitive ergonomics is focused on minimizing the chances of an employee making a mistake.

For this, the ways of predicting and avoiding human errors are studied and systems that improve mental fatigue are implemented.

When we talk about human error, we are referring to a failure that is attributed to a human factor, not to machinery, not to space, and not even to the fact that the employee is under the influence of any disabling substance or situation. It is not a mistake that is committed on purpose, it is usually a communication failure, an oversight, lack of information... For this reason, it is very important that the machinery have an intuitive interface and that the operator always knows how to act in each situation. .

Application of cognitive ergonomics

There are several areas where we can apply cognitive ergonomics to facilitate work activities:

1. Health

Health professionals have very long shifts, demanding jobs and enormous responsibility, since the lives of the people they treat are in their hands. The more tired they are, the greater the risk of making a mistake. That is why cognitive ergonomics can help minimize the risk of making mistakes. It can be used to design work shifts, ensuring minimum hours of sleep, which saves health problems, both physical and mental, and makes health workers better able to carry out their work.

2. Electronics

A device that is difficult to use will give rise to greater errors on the part of the person who uses it, whether at work or at home. To do this, it is important to design intuitive interfaces and instructions that are easy to read, prioritizing the most necessary functions and thus avoiding frustration.

3. Vehicles

Cognitive ergonomics is very important in vehicle design. In this case, physical ergonomics is also very present, which would make us feel comfortable while driving. Cognitive ergonomics, on the other hand, ensures that driving is easy, avoiding fatigue that can lead to an accident.

Planes, trains, ships also come in here... means of transport with controls that are much more complex than those of a car, whose design must be carried out with great care, making the operator quickly know what is activated or not, for example , highlighting the emergency buttons so that they are as visible and accessible as possible in case of need.

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