Special Interest Groups
Ergonomics/Human Factors in Education (EHFIE)

Ergonomics/Human Factors in Education (EHFIE) is a special interest group of the New Zealand Ergonomics Society (NZES).  EHFIE is for those with an interest in education-related ergonomics issues.  EHFIE has developed from the former NZES Ergonomics in Schools Special Interest Group (ESSIG).  NZES members with an interest in ergonomics applied to the field of education were spurred to review NZES actions in this field by the current wave of international interest in the area of ergonomics and education.


“Optimising ergonomics/human factors in learning environments”

This goal will be achieved via the sharing of research knowledge, practical information and ideas with relevant stakeholders from education fields.


Ergonomics optimises human well-being and human system performance by matching working environments to the abilities and needs of individuals, groups and society. (It does not deal just with the physical aspects of seating and computer set-up - this is a common misconception). Incorporating ergonomics into education has the potential to enhance:

·                     the learning experience for the student

·                     the interactions between students, teachers and their environments

·                     the organisational issues associated with education.

The resultant improved learning experiences should ensure that ergonomics is a lived experience for current students and future generations.

Move It Website

EHFIE is in the process of developing new project goals.  An earlier project initiated by ESSIG (the original NZES group with an interest in ergonomics in education) was the ‘moveit’ website.

‘moveit’ Website

This project arose from the awareness that children are now spending 15 or more years on computers before they enter the work force – when they may then be formally educated or trained in safe computer use.  This early exposure allows the development of bad or unhealthy habits when using computers (and other technology).  It was acknowledged that information about how to stay healthy when using computers and other technology was limited, and at a level not suitable for children.  ESSIG members wanted to give children the tools and environment to form healthy computer use habits right from the start.The goal for this project was “that children have the confidence and ability, when working with computers, to influence/adjust their physical environment and modify their behaviour to minimise risk”.  Interactive games were developed for student use to teach the key principles of postural and environmental adjustment.  Teacher notes for class activities were also provided to extend on these principles.

Visit the website at www.moveit.org.nz

Related Websites

Ergonomics4Schools: www.ergonomics4schools.com  a UK Ergonomics Society Special Interest Group
Ergonomics for Children and Educational Environments (ECEE): www.ergonomics4children.org  the web site of the International Ergonomics Association Technical Committee on Ergonomics for Children in Educational Environments (ECEE).
 www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/performingclassroooms  This is part of the NZ Ministry of Education website and includes information on the Design Quality Learning Spaces.
 www.edfacilities.org  This web site sponsored by the Department of Education (USA) and contains lists of resources and web site references under the heading: Planning, Design, Financing, Construction and Operations-maintenance. A usefull resource of research around the world.
 www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Education/Schools/Buildings/KF  Dr Kenn Fisher's work Linking Pedagogy and Space is highly recommended

Related Papers

BRACKLEY, H. M. and STEVENSON, J. M., 2004, Are children's backpack weight limits enough? A critical review of the relevant literature, Spine, 29, 2184-2190.

BUCHANAN, B., GARDNER WOOD, L., LEGG, S.J., JONES, S., KAYE, M., HOVEY, T. AND DONALDSON, N., 2007, MoveIT: a New Zealand interactive web based game/tool for educating intermediate schoolchildren and their teachers and parents about computer workstations and workspace re-design, Proceedings of the New Zealand Ergonomics Society Conference, Waiheke Island, New Zealand, 7-9 November, ISBN 0-9582560-1-2, p 75.

CHEUNG, J.W.Y AND WONG, T.K.S, 2007, Anthropometric evaluation for primary school furniture design, Ergonomics, 50, 323- 334.

DYKES, R., NOBLE, A.  and LEGG, S. J., 2007, Ergonomics in the New Zealand National Curriculum, and understanding and knowledge of ergonomics amongst New Zealand Secondary School Teachers, Proceedings of the New Zealand Ergonomics Society Conference, Waiheke Island, New Zealand, 7-9 November, ISBN 0-9582560-1-2, pp (in press).

GOUVALI, M.K. AND BOUDOLOS, K., 2006, Match between school furniture dimensions and children’s anthropometry, Applied Ergonomics, 37, 765-773.

GRIMES, P. AND LEGG, S. J., 2004, Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in school students as a risk factor for adult MSD: a review of the multiple factors affecting posture, comfort and health in classroom environments, Journal of the Human Environment System, 7, 1-9.

HARRIS, C., STRAKER, L., POLLOCK, C. AND TRINIDAD, S., 2005, Musculo-skeletal outcomes in children using information technology – the need for a specific etiological model, International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 35, 131-138.

HEDGE, A., Children and computers – past, present and future.2007, Proceedings of the New Zealand Ergonomics Society Conference, Waiheke Island, New Zealand, 7-9 November, ISBN 0-9582560-1-2, pp (in press)

INTERNATIONAL ERGONOMICS ASSOCIATION (IEA) Council Meeting Minutes, 29-30 July, 2000, Agenda Item 2.1.1, IEA Definitions: The Discipline of Ergonomics.

KANE, P. and LEGG, S.J, 2007, Ergonomics design of school furniture systems must match student, staff, curriculum and classroom management needs, Proceedings of the New Zealand Ergonomics Society Conference, Waiheke Island, New Zealand, 7-9 November, ISBN 0-9582560-1-2, pp (in press).

LEGG, S.J., 2006, Ergonomics in Schools - Plenary keynote address, in IEA2006, 16th World Congress on Ergonomics, Meeting Diversity in Ergonomics, Maastricht, The Netherlands, 10-14 July, Programme Book, p 53 and in http://www.iea.cc/ergonomics4children/

LEGG, S. J., 2007, Ergonomics in Schools, Special issue of ergonomics: Guest editorial, Ergonomics 50 (10), 1-6.

LEGG, S. J., 2008, Ergonomics for Schools in the Nordic countries: workshop. Proceedings of the Nordic Ergonomics Societies Annual Conference NES2008, 12 August 2008, p 207.

LEGG, S. J. and BENNETT, C., 2007, Co-guest editors, Special Issue: Ergonomics in Schools, Ergonomics 50 (10), 1523 -1702.

LEGG, S. J. and JACOBS, K., 2008, Sounding Board, Ergonomics for schools, Work 31, 1–5.

LEGG, S. J., LAURS, E. and HEDDERLEY, D. I., 2003, How safe is cycling with a schoolbag? Ergonomics, 46 (8), 859-869.

LI, J. X. AND HONG, Y., 2004, Age difference in trunk kinematics during walking with different backpack weights in 6- to 12-year-old children, Research in Sports Medicine, 12, 135-142.

LIMON, S., VALINSKI, L.J. AND BEB –SHALOM, Y., 2004, Children at risk: risk factors for low back pain in the elementary school environment, Spine, 29, 697-702.

PANAGIOTOPOULOU, G., CHRISTOULAS, K., PAPANIKOLAOU, A. AND MANDROUKAS, K., 2004, Classroom furniture dimensions and anthropometric measures in primary school, Applied Ergonomics, 35, 121-128.

MACKIE, H. W. and LEGG, S. J., 2008, Postural and subjective responses to realistic schoolbag carriage. Ergonomics, 51 (2), 217-231.

MACKIE, H.W. , LEGG , S. J. AND BEADLE, J., 2004,  Development of activity monitoring for determining load carriage patterns in school students,  Work, 22, 231-237.

MACKIE, H.W., STEVENSON, J. M., REID, S. A. AND LEGG, S.J., 2005, The effect of simulated school load carriage configurations on shoulder strap tension forces and shoulder interface pressure,  Applied Ergonomics, 36, 199-206.

MILANESE, S. and GRIMMER, K., 2004, School furniture and the user population: an anthropometric perspective, Ergonomics, 47, 416-426.

MOTMANS, R.R.E.E., TOMLOW, S. and VISSERS, S., 2006, Trunk muscle activity in different modes of carrying schoolbags, Ergonomics, 49, 127-138.

PARCELLS, C., STOMMEL, M. and HUBBARD, R., 1999, Mismatch of classroom furniture and student body dimensions: Empirical findings and health implications. Journal of Adolescent Health, 24, pp. 265-273.

PUCKTREE, T., SILAL, S. P. AND LIN, J., 2004, Schoolbag carriage and pain in school children. Disability and rehabilitation, 26, 54-59.

SAIMBANES, D., MARTINEZ, J. W., BUTLER, E. W. and HAIDER, T., 2004, Influence of school backpacks on adolescent back pain, Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, 24, 211-217.

SJOLIE, A.N., 2004, Persistence and change in non-specific low back pain among adolescents: a 3 –year prospective study, Spine, 29, 2452-2457.

SMITH, K.U. and SMITH, M.F. 1966, Cybernetic Principles of Learning and Educational Design, (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston).

SMITH, T.J. 2007, The Ergonomics of Learning: Educational Design and Learning Performance, Presentation to the University of Minnesota Academy of Distinguished Teachers Conference 2007, ‘Enhancing Student Learning: Conversations About Research and Practice,’ (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, Center for Teaching & Learning), April 23.

STRAKER, L. and POLLOCK, C. 2003, Delivering the power of computers to children, without harming their health, Plenary Keynote presented at the 15th Triennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association, Ergonomics in the Digital Age, August 24-29th, South Korea.

STRAKER, L. and POLLOCK, C. 2004, Optimising the interaction of children with information and communication technologies, Ergonomics, 48, 506-521.

TREVELYAN, F.C. AND LEGG, S. J., 2006, Back pain in school children – where to from here? Applied Ergonomics, Special Issue: Fundamental Reviews, 37, 45-54.

WHITTFIELD J, LEGG S J and HEDDERLEY D I., 2001, The weight and use of schoolbags in New Zealand secondary schools, Ergonomics, 44, 819-824.

WHITTFIELD, J., LEGG, S.J. and HEDDERLEY, D.I., 2005, Schoolbag weight and musculoskeletal symptoms in New Zealand secondary schools, Applied Ergonomics, 36, 193-198.

WOODCOCK, A., and BARTLETT, R.A., 2003. Enhancing the teaching and learning of ergonomics in schools through the development of web based resources, Presented at the 15th Triennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association, Ergonomics in the Digital Age, August 24-29th, South Korea.

WOODCOCK, A., CLARKE, E., COLE, J., COOKE, J., and DESBOROUGH, C. 2003. Teaching ergonomics to 4 to 6 year olds, in P.T. McCabe (Ed.), Contemporary Ergonomics (Taylor and Francis: London), 519-524.

Since June 2006 the DPI Programme has been ACC's approach to addressing musculoskeletal issues in the workplace. It provides tools, information and training for those responsible for workplace health and safety, and also for professionals who work in health, injury prevention and injury management.

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