Human factors and ergonomics

Human Factors delivers mitigation strategies to assist in ensuring the best working environment for people and systems and therefore a reduction in accidents, injuries or incidents.

HF Training in System Design

In June 2012 Resource Group’s Symbiotic Performance Solutions division delivered a Human Factors training course to Senior Designers at a UK based, major hardware and software manufacturer.

Delegates on the specially designed course, which focused on man-machine interfacing, included Programmers, Software Interface Designers and Hardware Designer with little or no previous experience of Human Factors Engineering.

The course was delivered at the customer site over four days. The first two days centred on the principles of Human Factors including practical exercises in human performance, communication, situation awareness and perception. This initial session ended with an exercise aimed at illustrating errors that can be found in most designs, in preparation for theoretical and practical workshops over the final two days.

The course continued focusing on specifics of the clients' HCI environment. Resource Group expert trainers demonstrated how people interact with an HCI, looked at workspace design, sensory input and the design of controls; followed by sessions on general HF techniques such as task analysis, questionnaires, heuristic evaluation, link and layout analysis.

The well-received course helped delegates to generate innovative and workable solutions during their development of software/hardware systems.

Enhanced Platform Loading System (EPLS)

In 2008, Man Truck & Bus UK Ltd won a contract to provide an Enhanced Platform Loading System (EPLS) to the UK MoD as part of an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR).

Safety and communications hazards had been identified for operators of the EPLS but without a clear idea of how to solve them. To find the answer, Resource Group was contracted to provide Human Factors consultancy and Safety & Environmental Reports. In addition, we were asked to design and deliver an all-inclusive Train the Trainers Course to support the introduction of the EPLS.

As a priority, we conducted a combined Human Factors Task and Safety Analysis to produce mitigation strategies and reports. These included studies of Hierarchical Task Analysis, Workplace Design and Situational Awareness. An on-going challenge was the creation of Safety & Environmental Reports to be issued and approved within UOR time frames.

By addressing issues from both a Human Factors and Safety perspective, we were able to identify a range of safety and awareness shortcomings. Mitigation strategies were then put in place so that the use of the EPLS would be safe and fit for purpose. These strategies were used to enhance the design of a Train the Trainers course.

The integration of Human Factors, Safety Reports and Training gave MAN Truck & Bus a solution fully compliant in all aspects of operational EPLS safety. This holistic approach led to significant cost savings and project completion within a shorter timeframe.

London Fire Brigade Hose Layer Unit

In 2010, the London Fire Brigade recognised they had a problem. Their operational effectiveness was at risk because, in some parts of the city, they were unable to access water supplies. They resolved the issue by commissioning Johnson’s Security Ltd to design and build Hose Layer Units.

They also contracted Resource Group’s Symbiotic Performance Solutions division to carry out a Human Factors (HF) analysis, design a Safety Risk Register, create an Operators Manual and a Maintenance Manual, and deliver a ‘Train the Trainers’ Course.

Effective use of the Hose Layer Units requires special physical and verbal skills. The HF team identified HF and Safety issues with human-to-machine and human-to-human communication. Both areas were addressed in the Safety Risk Register and the requisite information was fed into the training course.

Reports on Hierarchical Task Analysis, Workplace Design and Situational Awareness were produced as part of the HF analysis. The identification of common issues led to the creation of a single, more cost-effective solution.

The London Fire Brigade’s mechanical and manual use of these Hose Layer Units is now both safe and operationally reliable.

Lightweight Mine Roller

In 2008, several military customers contracted Pearson Engineering Ltd (PEL) to provide a Lightweight Mine Roller (LWMR) for operational use.

PEL commissioned Resource Group’s Symbiotic Performance Solutions division to carry out a Human Factors analysis of the fitting, operation and maintenance of the LWMRs which are mounted on the front and rear of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV).

The main challenge in providing protection for the LWMRs was to ensure IEDs and landmines detonated well clear of the AFV. The final HF Report comprised separate reports on Hierarchical Task Analysis, Workplace Design and Situational Awareness.

Key issues identified were:

1. Poor communication between the Vehicle Commander and Driver
2. Marking of cleared paths and
3. System control interface used by the AFV crew.

Each issue was matched with the best mitigation strategy. These included the design of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), the provision of warning labelling, and training for maintainer and operating crew.

During the production of the HF Report, we applied its consummate knowledge of Training and Safety analysis to create the most appropriate and achievable solution.

Courses designed to address the potential areas of HF risk and to achieve the level of competence required for the LWMR were successful in both training and operational situations.

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