Adonis Diaries

“Did you say Human Factors engineering?”

Posted on: May 7, 2009

 “Sorry, did you say Human Factors engineering?”

February 20, 2005

 “Sorry, I didn’t hear you. You said that your emphasis was on Human Factors engineering?”

“Wow, do you split genes and factor them in and out the DNA chain?”

“Are you involved in cloning human beings?”

“Could you improve my deficiencies?”

“Can you make me physically attractive and less prone to sicknesses and diseases?”

Negative! Human Factors engineering is interchangeably called Ergonomics which is composed of two Greek words meaning the measurement of work.

As you might know, if this discipline does not involve measurements it would not have been categorized as engineering.

Its main purpose is designing practical interfaces between complex systems and the end users, whether consumers, engineers, workers or employees in order to eliminate human errors.

Again, if these interface designs are not practical, then we would hardly categorize this field as engineering.

I also agree with you that most engineers hate to perform any kind of measurements as much as they hate reading.

Actually, my graduate courses were not restricted to engineering; they were multidisciplinary because I had to take graduate courses in the departments of marketing, economics, and psychology.

If you are interested I might clarify that most of my graduate courses were targeted to statistical modeling for designing and analyzing experiments involving workers and consumers.

This general course in Human factors will initiate you on a few concepts.

It will teach you how to study the risks and errors in the system and deficiency in products that could lead to fatal accidents or serious injuries.

Most of the time, near misses of accidents predominate because of the reflexes, flexibility and capabilities of human to cope and adapt, but ultimately, these missed accidents will occur if no preventive actions are taken or preempting redesigns are ordered on the system.

When accidents happen, this time around, it is because of the limitations and deficiencies of the human for not redesigning the interface, retraining, or revisiting the processes.

This course will encourage you to connect well with employees and workers, to know their predicaments at work, to care for their health from repetitive trauma disorders, or unwarranted shift work schedules, to provide guidelines for handling loads, to insist on placing warning signs in dangerous areas and hazardous machine parts, to make sure that employees notice the signs and instructions and abide by them.

It will ask you to get concerned and investigate the causes of the high rate of turnovers, the increase in absenteeism, or the lack of motivation in performing quality work.

It will teach you methods to design inference experiments, preferably involving employees and workers, in order to study the causes and effects of a problem that is plaguing productivity and profitability.

This approach is important because mathematical modeling of human behavior is at best inadequate and fraught with untenable assumptions.

This course will hammer the concept that the best approach to minimizing pains and health problems originating from the workplace is to redesign a faulty system, mechanically and organizationally.

You will be reminded, frequently, that testing and evaluation of systems should consider the fact that employees work at least 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week for many years.

The course will warn you that an optimum system performance, tested for a period of just a few minutes or hours, may turn out to be catastrophic and a worst case scenario in the long run.

You will learn the capabilities and limitations of humans both physically and mentally. This knowledge will enhance the design of systems and their interfaces that function well for the humans, a system that will eliminate awkward training to fit humans to a badly designed system.

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May 2009

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