Ergonomics. If you’re not familiar with this word then don’t worry most people aren’t, but what it refers to is important in just about every facet of our daily lives. Ergonomics is all about ensuring that products, services, software and just about any other man made thing you interact with, interacts with you properly. That is that it fits you comfortably, safely, and causes minimal confusion. Ergonomics covers the following two key areas:
- Physical ergonomics – making things fit the human body, taking into account strength, safe working positions, body shape etc.
- Psychological ergonomics – making things fit the mind, taking into account stress, pleasure, memory, human error, decision making etc
So important is this area that many companies employ departments of specialised ‘ergonomists’ dedicated to ensuring that their products are optimised from an ergonomics or ‘human factors’ point of view. On the other hand many companies neglect the importance of making their products user optimised, and produce products that are poorly designed from a usability point of view.
Good ergonomics is an important consideration for a lawn mower, perhaps more so than more benign products given the obvious critical safety issues.
The key ergonomic issues that a good lawn mower will have addressed are:
- Making using the mower straightforward to use physically. This includes using the lawnmower controls, being able to safely keep control, easily folding it down for storage, and ease of maintainability
- Making the mower straight forward to use mentally. For example, even if the controls are easy to grasp/push, if they aren’t intuitive to use (eg. having levers that move in the opposite direction than you would expect), then the design of the mower has still effectively failed as it will feel awkward to use, and more importantly could cause accidents.
Hopefully you can see that when looking to buy a lawn mower you should be looking at more than just how powerful the engine is, or how shiny the paint job is. Those things are very important, they are no use if the machine hasn’t been tailored to fit the mind and body of the person using it.
So when assessing lawn mowers from an ergonomics point of view, ask yourself the following questions:
- Has the mower been designed to be easily started/controlled/manoeuvred by me?
- Does the mower feature levels of adjustment to fit different user needs and preferences? For example adjustable handlebars
- Has the mower been integrated with features to make the task of cutting the grass as painless and hopefully as enjoyable as possible?
- Do the controls on the mower look comfortable/intuitive to use? A good example are Bosch’s excellent ‘Ergoflex’ handlebar grips
- Does the mower have features to make maintenance as simple as possible? For example easily accessible covers for commonly replaced parts such as batteries or filters.