Put workers' needs first to improve ROI

By including HFE in the planning of a facility upgrade, you can improve safety, productivity, wellness, job satisfaction—and profits.

By Mary Ann Lane and Peggy Hewitt

Human factors engineering (HFE), also called ergonomics, applies scientific theory, principles, data and methods to optimize human wellbeing to spaces, devices and systems for human use. HFE deals with how people and their environment mesh. Breaking it down further, physical HFE deals with how the human body interacts with furniture and technology. The layout and design of workstations, working postures, line of sight, repetitive movements, fatigue management and personnel safety are all good examples of physical HFE.

Cognitive and organizational HFE focuses on all the other ways humans interact with their surroundings. Cognitive HFE usually includes analysis of mental workload, decision-making, job performance, work stress and training requirements. Organizational human factors include communication, personnel resource management, work design, design of working times, teamwork, virtual organizations and quality management.

By including HFE in the planning of a facility upgrade, you can improve safety, productivity, wellness, job satisfaction—and profits. Whether you're considering a new control room or renovating an existing one, you can make a strong business case to justify integrating HFE during front-end engineering and design (FEED) and throughout all project phases. The return on investment (ROI) that can be realized from increasing efficiencies with an optimized design can be substantial.

To learn more, read "Human factors engineering delivers ROI" from Control.

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