Why does my business need a Human Factor Engineer?

A candidate at Charteris is involved in Human Factor Engineering or HFE, here she speaks about her profession and how these challenges times are in need of HFE more than ever.

HFE is a a discipline that examines the design of overall systems as well as individual system components and their interactions with each other and their human users, taking into account human capabilities and characteristics, with the goals of achieving optimum human and process safety and performance.

HFE experts are formally trained to evaluate, design and adapt/reconfigure systems and equipment to maximize individual and team performance under high-risk, high-stakes environments, while minimizing the introduction of new significant safety risks or unintended consequences into the system. Their expertise can be applied to physical systems, organizational systems and any combination of the two.

HFE specialists can inform the development of appropriate solutions to support individual and team performance in abnormal and upset conditions, such as epidemic and pandemic situations. Some solutions can be highly practical and developed quickly with minimal resources, such as within hours or days (e.g. developing usable signage and checklists to support distributed or team cognitive work) with input from one or two HFE specialists. Other solutions may take longer and require a larger group of experts.  Business are highly likely to have to make significant changes to operations in order to respond to the threat and impact of COVID-19. When there is a qualitative change to the planned mode of operation good practice demands a comprehensive risk assessment. Good practice also demands that such a risk assessment include consideration of the human and the impact of those changes on their ability to perform to expected standards.

The change may arise from a reconfiguration of technology, or a temporary alteration to the work process. This may be due to changes in personnel, workforce complement or the introduction of a new working method or procedure. The purpose of the risk assessment is to fully understand the changes and how these will affect the normal systems of risk management that are relied upon to maintain safety.

In any organization the review and ultimate approval for any change should be conducted by a specified competent individual whose seniority is commensurate with the degree of risk involved. A thorough management of change process will seek assurance of the ongoing integrity of risk management controls. All of these skills and methods form part of a competent HFE specialist’s expertise. For further information or to be put in touch with this expert please contact us: