On the Role of Ergonomics at the Interface Between Research and Practice
Ergonomics is comprised of a scientific discipline and professional practice. Broadly speaking, these two components are often referred to as research and practice, and the individual members sometimes identify as researchers or practitioners. Some subset of ergonomists conduct both research and practice. Since the early days of the field, there has been a certain amount of tension between research and practice. Although such tension is not specific to the ergonomics field, ergonomics is uniquely positioned to analyze the interface between researchers and practitioners to optimize the interaction between these two groups of stakeholders. Ergonomists have varied experience and education, and perhaps too little attention has been focused on understanding both the capabilities and limitations of ergonomists. More specific attention to understanding the needs of users of ergonomics research is proposed as another avenue to reduce the research-practice tension. Similarly, the organizational needs and expectations of consumers of ergonomics services will lead to research being better able to result in tools and assessments that will help ergonomists fulfill the needs of their customers. An example from the U.S. mining industry will be used in this paper to illustrate how understanding the eventual application context of ergonomics and its end users can create relevant and easy-to-use ergonomics tools.
KeywordsErgonomics practice Research Practitioner
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