Ergonomics in Brazil: comparison between the Anglo-Saxon and French

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Dias, Kelly Bossardi [1]

Dias, Kelly Bossardi. Ergonomics in Brazil: comparison between the Anglo-Saxon and French. Multidisciplinary Core scientific journal of knowledge. 03 year, Ed. 07, vol. 01, pp. 93-101, July 2018. ISSN:2448-0959


Ergonomics is a science that studies the interactions of man and your working environment, considering the positive and negative effects of this relationship. This work approaches are divided into two foci: the Anglo-Saxon and French, presenting some points of divergence, but both aim to act in order to fit the job to the man, preventing accidents, promoting comfort, improving the income, and providing greater worker satisfaction.

Keywords: Ergonomics, approach, Anglo-Saxon, French, worker.


The present work has as theme ergonomics in Brazil: comparison between the Anglo-Saxon and French. The specific objective is to describe the two ergonomias and analyze which one is more used in Brazil, emphasizing the importance of this branch of science to the comfort and well-being of the employee.

The word ergonomics comes from the Greek ergon, meaning work and nomos meaning rules, natural laws. In the etymological sense, the term means study of the labor law. (ABRANTES, 2004).

According to Silveira et al. (2010) in ergonomics, there is no predetermined intervention model. There are principles that guide:

  • Analysis of the demand and proposed contract;
  • Analysis of technical, economic and social environment;
  • Analysis of the activities and of the situation of employment and return of results;
  • Ergonomic recommendations; and
  • Validation of the intervention and evaluation of the recommendations.

Ergonomics is based on knowledge of other scientific areas, such as Anthropometry, biomechanics, Physiology, psychology, toxicology, mechanical engineering, industrial design, electronics, information technology and industrial management. She met, selected and integrated the relevant knowledge of these areas. Developed specific methods and techniques to apply this knowledge to improve the work and living conditions (DUL, WEERDMEESTER, 2004).


Ergonomics has become object of study from the moment that the man felt the need to adapt to new work schemes, generated by the growing changes in production processes. So, the evolution of ergonomics has gone through several stages of evolution, always proposing solutions which accompany the technological advances (ALMEIDA, 2011).

Essentially developed two strands of study: the Anglo-Saxon ergonomics or classical, majority world and led by the Americans and British, and the French practiced above all ergonomics, in francophone countries, but that later universalizou (ALMEIDA, 2011).

Therefore, the study of ergonomics develops under two aspects: the Anglo-Saxon or classical ergonomics and French or contemporary ergonomics aims to explore the differences in the form of adapting the work to the man, promoting comfort, improving the income, and providing greater satisfaction to the employee when?; The inserted into your working environment.

The Anglo-Saxon or Classical ergonomics has been discussed since the Industrial Revolution, where the relationships of man with the work became gradually because the increase in the employment rate of workers demanded a new perspective about the tasks to be executed, as well as greater willingness to meet productivity targets imposed by the industrial system (ALMEIDA, 2011).

In the early 20th century, Frederick Winslow Taylor, an American engineer, after watching workers in work regime, established methods from the time division and sequential tasks in a production line and proposed modifications to the tools and in order to use them, in order to obtain greater efficiency in productivity (VIDAL, 1992).

Taylor's research is understood by many as an embryo of what would be in the future the study of ergonomics. According to Denis (2002), in this movement of rationalization studies were carried out with the intention to improve working conditions, but not to address the criticism of the working class, but to get them a higher performance, so a greater productivity.

Technological progress and industrial society created an environment favourable to the emergence of Anglo-Saxon or ergonomics, however was the war industry that allowed this new branch of science if consolidate (ALMEIDA, 2011).

As CITES Vidal (1992), in 1915, in England, was formed a Committee intended to examine the health of workers employed in the defense industry. Professionals: doctors, physiologists and engineers in the wake on numerous issues of maladjustment between work and workers involved in military production.

Later, the second world war with their radars, sonars and aircraft revealed the inability of man to deal effectively with the machine. These new circumstances have influenced both England and the United States, to form new multidisciplinary groups of studies, now with the participation of psychologists. The objectives were, first, to increase the effectiveness in the fighting, and secondly ensure safety and comfort (VIDAL, 2000).

For the Nations involved in world conflicts, the loss was considerable and ordnance by itself justified the efforts and investments. Thus, the research in the field of ergonomics have been fully financed by industrial complex (ALMEIDA, 2011).

After the war and after you solved the errors of project that challenged the combatants, the ergonomists noted that household machines and many everyday instruments had the same problems. Inappropriate projects, whose lack of adaptation to the physical, mental and cognitive features of man confused users and generated incompatibilities in the human system-task-machine (SANTOS, 2006).

The classic approach of ergonomics is focused on methods and technologies. It's about the physical aspects of the man-machine interface, which are scaled, and controlled. The need to adapt the machine to man is the center of this current ergonomic (MONTMOLLIN, 1990; MATHUR, MONT ' ALVÃO, 2000).

The ergonomists acted in an attempt to lessen the constraints caused by the exposure of man to jobs, designing or redesigning machinery, equipment, instruments and industrial tools, in the search for improvements in the conditions of work and minimize problems caused on task execution (ALMEIDA, 2011).

The physical aspects of work and human capabilities, such as strength, posture, repetition or were the focus of the Anglo-Saxon ergonomics. To do so, used the knowledge from different areas, such as Anthropometry, psychology, Physiology and biomechanics. The studies were conducted primarily by means of simulations within laboratories, where variables were measured. Were considered anthropometric characteristics, muscular effort-related features, features related to the influence of the physical environment, the phenomena of nervous system, characteristics of circadian rhythms and also performed studies on physiological and Psychophysiological effects of aging (PEQUINI, 2007).

Initially, at the time of the war, polls considered as object of study the so-called "middle man", that is, male, young, white and healthy. Later diversified sources, so the "average man" disappears giving way to the "statistical" man. The characteristics of the "statistical man" are a result of summations of data and analyses on the different types of worker (man, woman, disabled), which generated a considerable volume of documentation about its capabilities and its limitations. Armed with such information, ergonomists applied the results of science, obtained in the laboratory, in particular work situations. So, had sufficient basis to convince companies to build machines and instruments tailored to requirements printed in manuals and standards adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and other associations of technical standardization (DARSES, MONTMOLLIN 2006).

French or contemporary ergonomics already flagged in European soil, with the second world war that left a catastrophic balance, and large and numerous industrial areas and jobs needed to be rebuilt. This likely performance space, opened the way for the installation of the new direction of ergonomics (VIDAL, 2000).

It is important to remember that the francophone ergonomists have developed their work with little or no influence of that systematic approach of ergonomists Anglo-Saxon. That is, their studies were not as preconceived or hypothetical situations. Therefore, in the mid-20th century, this new approach to ergonomics appears in France, as a specialized service within the industries, conducting studies of real situations. The challenge was to design, properly, the new jobs from the analysis of the existing situation (WISNER, 2004).

The ergonomic analysis is a step for the ergonomic intervention and tackle the task (what to do – work prescribed) and activity (which is done – actual work). The francophone ergonomist is concerned primarily with the Organization of work. Your approach answers the following questions related to work: what it does, who does it, how you do it, and how you could do it better (MONTMOLLIN, 1990).

The Anglo-Saxon concept, dominant until then, was the adaptation of man to your profession. In contrast, the French approach which aims to adapt the work to the man, focusing on the specific study of human labour. Therefore, an analysis focused on the activity carried out, focusing on the study of the interrelation between the man and the production environment in which it is inserted (ALMEIDA, 2011).

The term environment with respect to tools, working methods and organization of this, as well as to man, which is considered both as an individual and as a member of a workgroup. On the outskirts of this environment are also considered man's relationships with his co-workers, supervisors, and with your family. Ergonomics seeks to create a pleasant atmosphere, both materially and socially, with the maximum of comfort and security, for a job not only efficient, but also happy (ROZESTRATEN, 2005).

The application of General knowledge and collecting data on the human organism is disposed. Instead, the studies dealing with the analysis in the field of activity of specific operators in specific tasks, considering the psychological aspects of the work, such as the understanding of the task, problem solving, mental fatigue, and decision-making. The workers themselves are involved directly in the study describing your activity. You don't look for more improve the work of anonymous, but real individuals and identified (DARSES, MONTMOLLIN, 2006; PEQUINI, 2007).

The benefit of this analysis focused on the reality is the production of knowledge and methods that can be applied readily to the problems detected. More cognitive and psychological than physiological, anthropometric or francophone ergonomics does not solve the same problems that classical ergonomics, however Darses and Montmollin (2006) argue that approach, with the justification that the francophone ergonomics presents solutions for both desktop environments located in large companies, how to research departments in order to improve work locally, increasing the interaction between the operator and your task.

Second Pequini (2006), both the Anglo-Saxon ergonomics, how the French are important, because both use research methods and techniques established scientifically. Each under your particular focus aims at a same object: the worker performing your task in your workplace.

Vidal (2000) is categorical in saying that a good ergonomics application of various Sciences involved contributes to the appropriateness of technology and organization of work real workers, but makes it clear that you can't adjust the work to be human if you didn't If you know that a human being is about, i.e., what features, abilities and inherent limitations.

A review undertaken by Montmollin (2006) is the French approach of the work makes it harder for the generalization of the results acquired, because like studying real situations, with their eccentricities, the results will be very private. However the author points out that, at present, the ergonomic studies are quite numerous and that is enough for regularities can be identified. A considerable set of results can be organized into classes of work situations from which a new situation can be analyzed. This is the trend analysis of behavior. Therefore, the ergonomist should know enjoy the results, apparently limited, isolated research to apply it in a general situation.

In Brazil, the regulatory standard NR-17, published in 1978 by the Ministry of labor and employment, on the "parameters that allow the adjustment of the working conditions of workers psicofisiológicas characteristics, so as to provide a maximum comfort, safety and efficient performance "(AUSTRALIA, 1978).

The definition of NR-17 can be observed in 17.1, describing: "This Regulatory Standard aims to establish parameters that allow the adjustment of the working conditions of workers psicofisiológicas characteristics, so as to provide a maximum comfort, safety and efficient performance.

When you set the norm through the word, created the false expectation that this standard would bring the pre-established limits of all conditions of work for many different functions. However, there are standard these numbers only for professionals who work with data processing.

There is on the other side in the definition of the word standard psicofisiológicas, which varies so individual to individual according to their physiological and psychological characteristics and, therefore, does not fit the previous limits.

It is observed that in the definition of the standard there is a blending of the two aspects of ergonomics in the following aspects:

  • Ergonomics: the standard French is based on psicofisiológicas characteristics and aims to provide the maximum comfort and safety. It is observed in this goal that focus is the developer. The work environment must then be adapted to him individually. The notion of comfort varies from individual to individual;
  • Anglo-Saxon ergonomics: the norm is based on parameters, which are certainly from experimental methods and the idea of a man. In addition, the definition of efficient performance is focused on productivity and, therefore, in the adaptation of man to work, so that the man adapt to the working environment, which produces more and longer.


The Anglo-Saxon model acts on the man-machine using measurable knowledge to make the adaptation to machine man, while the French model back to the subjectivities, acting on task interface, aimed at directly to the design of machines.

Currently the two ergonomic approaches complement each other because a same ergonomist can act, depending on the issue being addressed, both as a designer of a equipment, and as a creator of a computerised system. In Brazil, the ergonomists specialize under both approaches.


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[1] Universidade Cândido Mendes

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