Ergonomics in the USA

Ergonomics in the United States is a well-developed field, influencing various sectors such as offices, industries, laboratories, and the medical field. American companies often integrate ergonomics to improve productivity, reduce the risk of injuries, and enhance employee well-being.

Where does ergonomics stand in the United States ?

Origins : 


Ergonomics in the United States has its origins in the growing needs of World War II, where the focus was on improving productivity and safety for military and industrial workers.

After World War II, the principles of ergonomics began to be applied in civilian industries. In 1957, the Ergonomics Research Society (later becoming the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society) was founded to promote the study and application of ergonomic principles.

During this period, specialized journals like ‘Human Factors’ began publishing research on the cognitive and physical aspects of ergonomics, marking the beginning of ergonomics as a scientific discipline.

Evolution : 


Organizations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began incorporating ergonomic standards into their regulations to improve working conditions across various sectors.

It is important to note that the mainstream approach in the United States is human factors ergonomics, such as ergonomics focusing on general outcomes (postures, work rates, work environments, etc.) and the definition of standards.

Starting in the 21st century, technological advancements continue to influence the field of ergonomics, with research on the impact of new technologies and work environments on worker health and well-being. Additionally, more participatory approaches, where workers are involved in the analysis and design of ergonomic solutions, have become very popular to better tailor workstations to the specific needs of employees.

What about today ? 

  • Regulatory and legislative approach :

In the United States, ergonomic regulations are less centralized. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidelines but allows companies considerable flexibility in their implementation. For example, the Ergonomics Guidelines for Specific Industries addresses specific directives for high-risk industries, such as office work, agriculture, and construction.

Ergonomic standards can vary from state to state and are often influenced by private standards such as those from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Compared to France, which has more stringent and centralized regulations, companies in the United States have more flexibility but also greater responsibility in implementing ergonomic practices.

  •  Work culture :

The work culture in the United States is often more focused on productivity and flexibility. Ergonomics is seen as an opportunity to enhance performance and reduce costs related to workplace accidents. There is significant pressure on companies to balance the costs and benefits of ergonomic investments.

In France, there is a greater emphasis on prevention and occupational health as a right, whereas in the United States, ergonomics is often approached from the perspective of productivity and cost reduction.

  • Training and Professionalization :

Training in ergonomics is less systematic than in France, but certification programs, such as those offered by the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE), are well-respected. Ergonomists can have diverse educational backgrounds, including engineering, psychology, and health sciences, which can lead to varied approaches to ergonomic practice.

  • Awareness  : 

OSHA offers training and webinars to raise awareness among employers and employees about best practices in ergonomics.

Additionally, ergonomic principles are integrated into the curricula of certain disciplines such as engineering, medicine, and management. This integration allows for the expansion of ergonomic concepts and their fundamental bases.

  • Technologies : 

Technological advancements in ergonomics in both France and the United States show similarities, although approaches and priorities may differ based on each country’s cultural, regulatory, and economic contexts.

Generally, in the United States, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D software are used extensively to assess and optimize workstations.


We have observed that our knowledge and technologies related to ergonomics are not so different. The United States and France approach ergonomics from slightly different perspectives. In France, there is a preference for prevention and occupational health as a right, whereas in the United States, ergonomics is often seen through the lens of productivity and cost reduction.

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