Adonis Diaries

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Article #19, April 16, 2005

“Could one general course in Human Factors make a dent in a career behavior?”

Allow me to state the contents of the four parts of my course materials.

Part one contains an overview, human systems design and modeling, designing for people, human error, accidents and safety, communicating the Human Factors message, human limits and differences, sensing capabilities and limitations, the body and performance, body size, muscular work, nervous control of movements and cognitive processing and performance.

Part two comprises the chapters on improving work efficiency, heavy work, handling loads, lifting, and design of workstations, hand tool design and biomechanics.

Part three is about physical and social environments, noise, vibration, ergonomic principle of lighting, temperature regulation, indoor climate, occupational heat stress, occupational stress, inspection, shift work and the age factor.

Part four covers Human Factors in system design, human-machine system, display and controls, code design, data collection, speech communication, product liability engineering, the engineer as an expert witness, Human Factors and the automobile and human-computer interface.  That’s it!

Throughout the semester I hammer on the main criteria of what Human Factors engineers should constantly consider in their design: mainly, to first target the end user, ease of use of the interface, error free design, acceptability, fitting the capabilities of users, limited training needs, comfortable workstation for extended duration of working habits, safety usage, safety behavior and healthy environment.

This course is not about objects, characteristics of materials, quantity produced or speed in manufacturing processes.

This course is focused on the end users because most systems are designed for target users and operated by end users.

Throughout the semester the perennial question happens to squeeze itself among the exams’ questions: “How would you like to define the Human Factors discipline; what are the most important practical sections that could readily be applied in your engineering discipline and how your own understanding of this subject can alter your behavior when you secure a job?”

Mind you that I am not asking them what the Human Factors professionals would like them to define this discipline but what they have actually assimilated and might make the appropriate information or methods an intrinsic part of their knowledge.

There was an optional course offered, but unfortunately not on a consistent basis, which is called “Risk assessment and Occupational Safety and Health”.

This course covered the safety regulations, laws and standards that private workplaces and institutions have to follow and abide by them.

I used this course as an excellent medium to set the tone and objectives of the Human Factors discipline but the School of Architecture and Engineering revised their optional courses offering to substitute Reliability Engineering instead. 

In the “risk assessments and occupational safety” course I introduced such topics of human errors in operational systems and the corresponding interfaces, the risks and consequences of committing these errors and the remedies in redesign, management and organizational direct concerns and involvement in reducing injuries and unsafe behavior in the workplaces and procedures were very appropriate as an introduction to the purposes of Human Factors course.

These topics allowed me to focus on other issues in the one Human Factors course and substantially reduced the course materials.

But this important optional course was alas dropped from the curriculum but not yet officially.

“Are occupational safety and health standards of any concern for the Human Factors professionals?”  Article #15, April 11, 2005

 

Occupational safety and health is a topic related to the body of safety and health standards that modern States enforce on all industries and institutions which hire workers to mass produce objects or services on a full time or part time basis.

The main emphasis is to collect data of the impact of the working environment on the safety and health of workers and employees.

Harmful environmental factors such as noise, lighting, indoor climate, temperature, heat or poisonous elements are studied, analyzed, draft standards proposed for comments and recommendations and then standards promulgated for enforcement by appropriate agencies with wide legal empowerment to prosecute and exact penalties on refractory industries.   

Since the dawn of history, slavery or quasi slavery activities have been imposed on hapless souls.

During the industrial revolution many political parties and union organizations fought for fair labor and adequate wages commensurate to the risks the jobs entail and sometimes succeeded in gaining substantial legal rights to the workers;

However, safety and health standards were not enacted and enforced until the late quarter of the 20th century.

Even in the modern and ultra developed States sweat shop factories are rampant in building basements with primitive modicum of safety and health concerns for the thousands of immigrants who came from wretched countries with dreams of a better life for freedom, liberty or economic well being. 

Not only these immigrants are getting none of their dreams but they are cut off of the familiar environment and family support they may have enjoyed back home.

From time to time, articles in newspapers and social and political organizations expose these inhuman treatments of people, a few measures are taken by the local governments and then life goes on as usual with no serious follow ups or consistent willingness to eradicate these contagious diseases of unbridled greed to devalue human lives when laws and orders are relaxed for the despondent.

Many consensual safety standards from engineering institutions and industrial organizations such as chemical, petroleum, electrical and mechanical businesses have been accepted and joined to the package of safety and health standards.

These standards also deal in many respects with the organizational environment of workers such as shift work or discrimination in hiring on age, race and gender basis.

Besides the military and aerospace conglomerates, it was the federal and State governments which realized the values of Human Factors professionals to administering the various safety and health agencies.

Human Factors graduates were employed to collect data on the hazardous situations in workplaces, analyze the data, set priorities, inspect the workplaces and enforce the standards.

Every year we have hundreds of major catastrophic fires in warehouses and industrial factories where many immigrants die because they live and cook their meals in dangerous environments.

This page lacks space to mention the mega catastrophes in chemical plants, petroleum refineries, dams and construction civil activities.

Note:  A student version added two examples to my article.  He inserted an excerpt from the Yahoo Daily news that Nikes, the sport goods industry, has admitted to a series of abuses at its Asian factories, including forced overtime and limited access to water.  In response to allegations by human rights groups and settled court cases Nike founder and chairman Philip Knight said: “We’ve been fairly quiet for the past three years in corporate responsibility. So we’re using this report to play a little catch-up and draw a more complete picture.”

Another example is the fire catastrophe of 1911 in the USA. The workrooms had inadequate fire escapes and no sprinklers.  The supervisors used to lock the doors to the workplace from the outside to prevent women and girls from taking breaks. Five hundred workers were trapped and 146 burned corpses were found.  Both defendants and manslaughter were acquitted by the jury; the jury claimed that this happened because women panicked which caused their deaths.

 “Are occupational safety and health standards of any concern for the HF professionals?” (April 11, 2005)

    

Occupational safety and health is a topic related to the body of safety and health standards that modern States enforce on all industries and institutions which hire workers to mass produce objects or services on a full time or part time basis.

The main emphasis is to collect data of the impact of the working environment on the safety and health of workers and employees.

Harmful environmental factors in noise, lighting, indoor climate, temperature, heat or poisonous elements are studied, analyzed, draft standards proposed for comments and recommendations and then standards promulgated for enforcement by appropriate agencies with wide legal empowerment to prosecute and exact penalties on refractory industries.    

Since the dawn of history, slavery or quasi slavery activities have been imposed on hapless souls. During the industrial revolution many political parties and union organizations for fair labor and adequate wages commensurate to the risks the jobs entail succeeded in gaining substantial legal rights to the workers but safety and health standards were not enacted and enforced until the late quarter of the 20th century. 

Even in the modern and ultra developed States sweat shop factories are rampant in building basements with primitive modicum of safety and health concerns for the thousands of immigrants who came from wretched countries with dreams of a better life for freedom, liberty or economic well being.  

Not only these immigrants are getting none of their dreams but they are cut off of the familiar environment and family support they may have enjoyed back home.

From time to time, articles in newspapers and social and political organizations expose these inhuman treatments of people, a few measures are taken by the local governments and then life goes on as usual with no serious follow ups or consistent willingness to eradicate these contagious diseases of unbridled greed to devalue human lives when laws and orders are relaxed for the despondent.

Many consensual safety standards from engineering institutions and industrial organizations such as chemical, petroleum, electrical and mechanical businesses have been accepted and joined to the package of safety and health standards.

These standards also deal in many respects with the organizational environment of workers such as shift work or discrimination in hiring based on age, race and gender basis.

Besides the military and aerospace conglomerates, it was the federal and State governments which realized the values of Human Factors professionals to administering the various safety and health agencies.

Human Factors graduates were employed to collect data on the hazardous situations in workplaces, analyze the data, set priorities, inspect the workplaces and enforce the standards.

Every year we have hundreds of major catastrophic fires in warehouses and industrial factories where many immigrants die because they live and cook their meals in dangerous environments. This page lacks space to mention the mega catastrophes in chemical plants, petroleum refineries, dams and construction civil activities.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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