In OPC Inc’s Ergonomic, Human Factors and Accessible Design practice we find that many clients and even the general public are not aware of how these three areas of expertise are interrelated and necessary to have in place for the design of the workplace, buildings and websites to name a few.
While ergonomics takes care of the physical, biomechanical and physiological aspects of measuring human effort and resulting design, a scientific understanding of neurophysiology, cognition and mental abilities must also be a part of the design of our environments as well which is called Human Factors.
When Ergonomics and Human Factors expertise is brought together, this as applied in our unique practice, results in FORM plus FUNCTION combining in design. The unique by-product which also transpires includes design which allows a greater number of people to safely and efficiently interact with buildings, products, websites & technology. This is referred to as accessible or universal design.
Defining Human Factors and Ergonomics
Human factors and ergonomics (HFE) is the study of how to make technological systems, products, services & built environments safe, effective, and easy to use. This requires an interdisciplinary approach and expertise that addresses human performance and how it can be enhanced through the design of tools, systems, working environments, processes, and the organization.
Ergonomics and Human Factors Design has been applied by OPC Inc’s experts across Canada and the US in applications ranging from:
- quantifying the physical and mental demands of tasks performed by TTC and Vancouver bus drivers;
- enhancing design of information presentation/navigation systems to NavCan Traffic Controllers;
- ensuring Chrysler vehicles could be built by the human factor in 47 second cycle times with less human error;
- helping TD Bank to chose floor coverings towards enhanced wayfinding for persons who are blind or have low vision;
- redesigning Scotiabank’s ATM machines for both abled and disabled end users
- desiging web sites and computer interfaces for First Capital , GWLRA & other private companies;
- Developing built environment standards for accessible design with 110 of the LCBO stores across Ontario.
Where is Ergonomics and Human Factors Used?
Human Factors is relevant in all things that people use or interact with & all work & activities in which they participate. They are a part of:
- Information systems such as web pages, web tools that support the formation of virtual communities, and the controls and displays in the cockpits of subway cars and Coast Mountain Bus Co traffic control panels.
- Management systems, such as training/educational programs, integration of HSE into business strategic plans & supervisor feedback methods.
So next time you hear terms such as ergonomics, human factors, accessible and universal design and you notice a design that is user-friendly and requires less effort you can thank the ergonomists and human factors experts who played a critical role in its design.
Optimal Performance Consultants is a Canada wide ergonomic, human factors and accessible design firm with consultants across each province and parts of the US with offices in Toronto and Vancouver BC. Our experts can be reached at 1 888 768-2106 or Consultants @optimalperformance.ca
Jane Sleeth & her Sr Consultants are available to speak about these and similar topics at your upcoming conferences & internal presentations. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org