Documents on a table that represent research results Copyright: © Martin Braun  

The core objectives of ergonomics are to simultaneously optimize the overall performance of work systems and the well-being of the human actors. Achieving this goal requires a comprehensive understanding of the entire work process, including the people involved, the equipment used, the work environment, and the overall work organization.

In order to enable a systematic approach to the analysis, conception and evaluation of work processes, the IAW – Institut für Arbeitswissenschaft (Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics) draws on a broad repertoire of ergonomic methods. The variety of methods is reinforced by an interdisciplinary approach, which is characterized by the combination of engineering, natural science, social science, and educational science expertise, which achieves a holistic view of work processes, where human, technical, informational, social, ethical, legal, economic and organizational factors are assessed. The context-specific combination of these methods and approaches makes it possible to address the broad spectrum of issues in labor research.

In terms of their objectives, common approaches to ergonomics include measuring methods to determine the characteristics, expertise, skills and requirements of people, methods of system analysis and system design, methods to evaluate the work performance of socio-technical systems, methods to determine external stress factors and the resulting strain on individual persons, and concepts for anchoring measures of ergonomic work design in corporate processes and ‑structures. Analytical methods are used, which provide early insight into the potential that new concepts have for specific work and organizational structures, as well as empirical methods that help to scientifically validate the measures of work design. Examples of an analytical-synthetic approach include computer-based modeling and simulation of work processes. The collection of performance indicators during operation, physiological measurement methods as well as panel surveys are examples of an empirical approach.