State of Science: ergonomics and global issues

In his 1993 IEA keynote address, Neville Moray urged the ergonomics discipline to face up to the global problems facing humanity and consider how ergonomics might help find some of the solutions. In this State of Science article we critically evaluate what the ergonomics discipline has achieved in the last two and a half decades to help create a secure future for humanity. Moray’s challenges for ergonomics included deriving a value structure that moves us beyond a Westernised view of worker-organisation-technology fit, taking a multidisciplinary approach which engages with other social and biological sciences, considering the gross cross-cultural factors that determine how different societies function, paying more attention to mindful consumption, and embracing the complexity of our interconnected world. This article takes a socio-historical approach by considering the factors that influence what has been achieved since Moray’s keynote address. We conclude with our own set of predictions for the future and priorities for addressing the challenges that we are likely to face. Practitioner Summary: We critically reflect on what has been achieved by the ergonomics profession in addressing the global challenges raised by Moray's 1993 keynote address to the International Ergonomics Association. Apart from healthcare, the response has largely been weak and disorganised. We make suggestions for priority research and practice that is required to facilitate a sustainable future for humanity.