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What do ergonomists and human factors specialists do?
Ergonomists and human factors specialists work in a huge range of disciplines, from healthcare to research to energy to transport. They either work independently, as consultants, or within an organisation such as a nuclear facility or university. What they do depends very much on the organisation but their role generally is to look at the processes and systems that companies use to carry out their business to understand if they can be made safer, more effective, more usable or more accessible.
Ergonomics is about making life easier for people. This includes the products you use at home, at leisure and at work, the places in which you live and work, the transport you use to get around, and the systems that keep day-to-day life functioning properly. As an ergonomist, you could:
- design products to make them easier or more comfortable to use
- train people to work safely in hazardous places like oil rigs and power plants
- examine the physical strength and endurance of athletes
- analyse pilots’ tasks to ensure maximum performance under stress
- design protective equipment for people working in extreme environments
- improve accessibility for disabled people