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Human Factors Engineering

Human factors engineering is about people: It is an applied science that seeks to coordinate the design and arrangement of the working and living environment with the capacities and requirements of the worker (i.e., designing for human use). Human factors engineering came into visibility as a distinct discipline during World War II when much of the new military equipment was so complex that it could not consistently be operated safely or effectively, even by well-trained personnel. Therefore, it became necessary to keep the "human factor" in mind when designing new equipment. Subsequently, the application of human factors engineering has rapidly spread to other industries.

The textbook Human Factors in Engineering and Design (McCormick, E.J., & Sanders, Mark S., 1982, p.4) defines human factors as the following:

The central focus of human factors relates to the consideration of human beings in carrying out such functions as: (1) the design and creation of man-made objects, products, equipment, facilities, and environments that people use; (2) the development of procedures for performing work and other human activities; (3) the provision of services to people; and (4) the evaluation of the things people use in terms of their suitability for people.

The objectives of human factors in these functions are twofold, as follows: To enhance the effectiveness and efficiency with which work and other human activities are carried out; and to maintain or enhance certain desirable human values (e.g., health, safety, satisfaction). The second objective is essentially one of human welfare and well-being.

The central approach of human factors is the systematic application of relevant information about human abilities, characteristics, behavior, and motivation in the execution of such functions.

For more information, you can visit the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society website or contact us.



This year's Fall meeting for the Center for Operator Performance will be October 24-26 in Corpus Christi. For more information, please contact Lisa Via. Guests are always welcome!


Our summer newsletter is now available. Click here!

Take our short survey on operator span of control. Click here (new window)

David Strobhar's book, "Human Factors in Process Plant Operation," is now available in both hardcover and Kindle e-book.

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