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Human Factors Engineering. Presented by: C. Macris A. C. Macris Consultants. Here’s a group of seemingly unrelated things. The Common Thread. The common thread is – People. An academic definition of Human Factors Engineering.

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Human factors engineering

Human Factors Engineering

Presented by:

C. Macris

A. C. Macris Consultants

The common thread
The Common Thread

The common thread is –


An academic definition of human factors engineering
An academic definition of Human Factors Engineering

The central focus of human factors relates to the consideration of human beings in the design of man-made objects, facilities and environment that people “use” in the various aspects of their lives.

The central approach is the systematic application of relevant information about human characteristics and behavior to the design of the these objects, facilities and environments.


Design of:

  • Products

  • Systems

  • Environments

    Why is design so important?


  • Is proactive

  • Is driven by a need or requirement

  • Can cost more initially, but

    Good human factors design yields returns in improved performance and reliability.


Let us look at a simple example of design

This is a rather conventional American design


This car was imported into the US in the late 1970s from Italy. Note the Tachometer in the center with the Speedometer to the right along with more instrumentation. The cultural design difference is there were no speed limits in Italy, but engine speed was of considerable interest. Needless to say this design did not last long in the US.

Design considerations
Design considerations

  • Safety

  • Environment [hostile such as outer-space, deep sea]

  • Population [age/geriatric, physical characteristics, etc.]

  • Compatible work environments [lighting, color, temperature, etc.]

  • Task to be accomplished

  • Culture

  • Efficient processes and workflows

  • Right people in the right job


Assessment of:

  • Products

  • Systems

  • Environments


Typically is in response to something gone wrong

  • Products - equipment

  • Systems - warnings

  • Environment - hazards

    Can be proactive in the context of

  • Prevent injury

    Assessment yields returns in the context of avoiding future losses, better design and improved operations.


Table Saw Blade Guarding

Guard design
Guard Design

Design issues with guard

Red line indicates a plastic piece across inner part of guard – sawdust collects making visibility difficult

Dimension of guard width and ability to rip narrow pieces of wood

Setup and alignment is tedious


A page from a newer saw – they afforded the user an alternative for narrow ripping cuts.

Table saw guarding survey
Table Saw Guarding Survey

We conducted a very comprehensive Table Saw guarding survey. Below is a summary of the findings.

Four reasons sited for not using guard

Difficult to adjust

Gets in the way

Safer without it

Inhibits my work

One reason not sited for not using a guard

Takes longer to cut

Reason that they would more apt to use a guard

Better design and loss of fingers was the reason respondents gave.

Better guard design
Better Guard Design

  • Safer = fewer legal actions

  • Marketing advantage = competitive advantage

  • More sales for commercial users

Systems warnings
Systems - Warnings

Warnings represent a broad range of human interface issues. These issues include:

  • Effectiveness of warnings,

  • Whether warnings actually affect behavior,

  • Which types of warnings are most effective,

  • With which types of products are warnings most likely to be heeded

Systems warnings1
Systems - Warnings

  • Warnings must be provided if, without such warnings, the product would be unreasonably dangerous.

  • The ultimate users of the product, or those individuals, who might be expected to be proximate to the use of the product, are the ones to whom the warnings should be directed.

Systems warnings2
Systems - Warnings

For a warning to be effective the user must:

  • Notice the warning (color, design, etc)

  • Perceive the warning (low voltage v. high voltage)

  • Understand the warning (convey the right message)

Design of warnings
Design of Warnings

Product Safety Sign or Label: Sign, label, or decal affixed to a product that provides hazard and safety information about that product.Panel: Area of label having a distinctive background color different from adjacent areas, or which is clearly delineated by a line, border, or margin. Message Panel: Area containing word messages which identify the hazard, how to avoid the hazard, and the probable consequence of not avoiding the hazard.Signal Word Panel: Area that contains the signal word. For personal injury hazards, the signal word panel also contains the safety alert symbol.Symbol/Pictorial Panel: Optional area containing symbol/pictorial.

Design of warnings1
Design of Warnings


an imminently hazardous situation which, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury

a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury

a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, may result in minor or moderate injury

Thank you

Thank you

Contact information:

A. C. Macris Consultants

PO Box 535

Mystic, Connecticut 06355


[email protected]