Ergonomics and Feng Shui

This is a question I was asked recently:  how is ergonomics different from feng shui?  There is quite a difference as I will explain below.

Wikipedia defines feng shui as “an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to use the laws of both Heaven and Earth to help improve one’s life by receiving positive qi”.  Western feng shui has come to be associated with designing one’s home and/or office to block negative energy and allow qi to flow for balance and harmony.  For example, some feng shui tips state that one’s desk should not be facing the door, and that water should be represented to promote energy flow.

Ergonomics comes from two Greek words:  ergos meaning work, and nomos meaning natural laws.  It is the science of ensuring the worker fits to his/her tasks and tools with minimum biomechanical and physiological stress.  For example, ensuring workers have fully adjustable chairs to fit their bodies, ensuring workers have lightweight, adjustable tools for assembly work, ensuring workers do not experience heat stress working in hot environments for too long, and changing work practices to reduce risk factors such as repetition and force.

In a nutshell, Feng shui uses the elements, colors, and furniture placement to improve the workplace, where ergonomics uses a change in equipment, tools, and work practices to improve the workplace.  Feng shui may help people increase harmony and balance in their lives, but it has not been scientifically proven.  Ergonomics has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of injury.

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