18 Jul Human Factors Engineering (HFE)
Human Factors Engineering (HFE) studies interactions between people and systems, that is, tools, technologies, organization, environment and tasks, and then identifies where this relationship can be improved. It encompasses usability and ergonomics to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. HFE focuses on adapting systems to people so they can perform their functions with low probability of error, damage, pain or stress, with high probability of productivity, quality, safety, motivation and satisfaction. Thus, HFE can help optimize patient safety (Carayon et al., 2014; Rivera and Karsh, 2008; Bernardesa et al., 2018).
Human Factors Engineering (HFE) has a key role in promoting the inclusion of human factors knowledge at design and construction phase in socio-technical systems. Several research projects and programs (Taylor, 2013) on system safety engineering and Quantitative Risk Analysis in the last 40 years have offered very strong evidence of the crucial role that human and organizational factors (HOFs) play in major accidents. A coherent definition of HFE is provided by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers(OGP), which states that HFE is a discipline exploiting a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on the integration of five elements (“star model”): people, work, work organization, environment and equipment (OGP, 2011). In other words a suitable HFE application framework should address the whole collection of these contributors with respect to the specific case study, so as to support the human inputs to production and reduce potential for human errors for Occupational Safety and Process Safety. HFE can be interchanged with the terms “Human Factors” and “Ergonomics”. In the Process industry the demands for safe and efficient operations has increasingly shifted the role of the human in the system from primary actor to supervisor of an automated process (Naghdali et al., 2014). This increase in the role of automation highlights the need to properly consider possible hidden hazards when interfacing automation with the process to be controlled and the operators supervising them. In the past the development of new technology was much slower than it is at present and it did allow enough time for the hazards to emerge (Leveson, 2011); hazards that may also originate in the lack of adequate support for operator’s cognitive processing at a rule-based level or at a knowledge-based level (Rasmussen, 1983). What is now more and more crucial are supports for the diagnostic capabilities of the operator to properly identify deviations in the process, to suitably fix eventual problems coherently with the severity of expected consequence/s. When the complexity of the system increases in fact the ability of the human to control the system and intervene in foreseeable and or unforeseen circumstances with even manual functions such as corrective maintenance) it’s still crucial in helping the system to recover from abnormal conditions (HSE, 1999); hence the need for Human Factors consideration in designing for operability and maintainability. Simple yet effective choices at both organizational and technical level can be observed to enhance human performance, prevent human error and improve safety and maintainability (Vicente, 2001; Wilson et al., 2005).
- Bernardesa, M., Trzesniak, C., Trbovich, P., Henrique Pereira Mello, C. (2018). “Applying human factors engineering methods for hazard identification and mitigation in the radiotherapy process”. Safety Science, 109, 270-280.
- Carayon, P., Xie, A., Kianfar, S. (2014). “Human factors and ergonomics as a patient safety practice”. Qual. Saf. 23, 196–205. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjqs-2013-001812.
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- Leva, M. C., Naghdali, F. Ciarapica Alunni, C. (2015). “Human Factors Engineering in System Design: A Roadmap for Improvement”. Procedia CIRP 38 (2015), 94 –
- Leveson, N. G. (2011). “Engineering a Safer world”. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
- Naghdali, F., Leva, M. C., Balfe, N., Cromie, S. (2014). “Human Factors Engineering at Design Stage: Is There a Need for More Structured Guidelines and Standards?” Chemical Engineering Transactions, Vol.36, 2014.
- (2011). “Human factors engineering in projects”. International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, Report No.454, International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, London.
- Rasmussen, J. (1983). “Skills, rules, knowledge; signals, signs, and symbols, and other distinctions in human performance models”. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, 13, 257-266.
- Taylor, J.R. (2013). “Incorporating Human Error Analysis into Process Plant Safety Analysis CHEMICAL ENGINEERING TRANSACTIONS”. VOL. 31, 2013 301-306.
- Vicente, K. J. (2001). “Cognitive engineering research at Risø from 1962-1979”. In E.Salas (Ed.), Advances in Human Performance and Cognitive Engineering Research, Volume 1 (pp. 1-57), Elsevier.
- Wilson, J. R., Corlett, N. (2005). “Evaluation of Human Work”. 3rd ed., 83–111, Taylor and Francis Group, Boca Raton, USA.