An increasing number of products in today’s marketplace are promoted as "ergonomically designed." Some are. Many, however, wear the label only as a ‘hook,’ placed there by the marketing department to further entice consumers to make a purchase. Then there are products with true ergonomic credentials - ergonomics was clearly considered up front in the product design process - yet the "ergonomically designed" label is nowhere to be found.
In last week’s The Ergonomics Report™ (see: When is a Product Ergonomically Designed? 6/29/2005) we ran the first in a new series of articles addressing ergonomic product design and how buyer’s can recognize the genuine article amidst today’s marketing fluff.
Peter Budnick PhD, CPE, an ergonomics lecturer and principal of Ergoweb Inc., believes that a standardized approach holds promise in making the "ergonomically designed" label a legitimate claim and a selling point that consumers can trust.
“The consensus in the profession is that a credible seal of approval issued by an ergonomics body could end the confusion and opportunism in the ergonomics marketplace. Setting a minimum standard to test whether something is ergonomically designed is a two-for-one benefit, he added. It is a good idea to move in that direction, to protect the consumer and to provide meaning to the word ‘ergonomics.’"
Kevin Costello, CPE, founder and president of United States Ergonomics, agrees, adding, “We must continually challenge product makers to give us ‘true ergonomics,’ and only then will the evolution of ergonomics continue to improve the comfort and quality of our lives. Many product makers are responding by going the distance to ensure that ergonomics are considered up front in the design process. The result is an evolution of the products we use in the factory, at the office and at home.”
Costello says those product makers that don’t consider ergonomics upfront will eventually be pushed to the sidelines.
“With the level of understanding we have of anthropometry, biomechanics and human physiology there is no excuse for a product that doesn’t meet our ergonomics needs. In turn, the product makers that are putting the effort into the ergonomics of a design, and succeeding, will be recognized for their efforts through increased sales and market share.”