Recently, my daughter and I were out shopping for a new chair for our computer desk at home. While browsing through the selection at the office supply store, a nice, fine, young salesman approached and asked if he could help us. I replied, “Just looking for a new chair for my computer workstation at home, thanks though.” Eager Beaver sales guy was determined to help me out. As he proceeded to “creep on me” (a term kids use today for when someone is hovering over you), he pointed out a fine chair and proclaimed, “This one is a really good one. It’s completely ‘ergonomically correct.'” I responded, “NO WAY?!” At this point in the sales game, my daughter knew what was coming, and vamoosed as quickly as her little legs would move. Me, being me, asked Ergo Eddie the sales guy what he meant by the chair being “ergonomically correct.”
Sounding like Mel Tillis performing a Nicki Minaj song, he proceeded to tell me all about “ergonomically correct.” After hearing him stumble around for a good three to five minutes, the dad in me decided to take over and offer a little learning moment to Sam the Salesman regarding knowing what you’re talking about.
Having worked in the field of ergonomics for some 18 years, I always get tickled when I hear the phrase “ergonomically correct” and how it is being used to sell a specific item. So, needing a good blog topic, I thought I would do my part to make you a little more to the wise on ergonomics.
When talking about a specific item (shovels, chairs, drinking glasses, etc.), the term “ergonomically correct” SHOULD refer to how that product fits your body. If the product interacts with the body in a comfortable, anatomically suiting manner that doesn’t compromise the body’s natural position and movement, then that product should be considered ergonomically correct. An easy way to look at it is does this ergonomically correct labeled product make the task easier or safer to perform?
Many products on the market today claim to be ergonomically correct, when in reality, they are simply just designed different, offering no great benefit to the user. They don’t fit the body better. They don’t make the task easier. And they sure don’t make the task safer for the person. They are simply some snazzy design that looks different from the original (think of that snow shovel with the bent up handle). If you want to make sure a product is ergonomically correct for you, try it out, then ask yourself these questions: Does it fit to your body better? Is it comfortable to use? Do you put less effort into the task you are doing as a result of that product? Does it make the task safer? If you can answer yes to all these questions, then that ergonomically correct product is right for you.
So next time you use your curvy handled knife, take a minute to pat yourself on the back for being ergonomically correct. Your hands, wrists, and elbows will thank you later in life. And if you’re in need of a new chair, go into the store where “that was easy” and ask to see their ergo office chairs. You might run into a humble young salesman who now knows just a smidge about being ergonomically correct.