Human Factors is the study of the interrelationships between humans, the tools they use, and the environment in which they live and work.

A Human Factors approach is used to understand where and why systems or processes involving humans break down. This approach examines the process of Human Error, looking at the causes, circumstances, conditions, associated procedures and devices and other factors connected with the event. Studying Human Performance can result in the creation of safer systems and the reduction of conditions that lead to errors.

Much of the work in Human Factors is on improving the Human-System interface by designing safer systems and processes. This might include, for example: simplifying & standardizing procedures; engineering out, guarding against and/or warning about hazards; building in redundancy to provide backup and opportunities for recovery; improving communications and coordination within teams; or redesigning equipment to improve the Human-Machine interface.

Human Factors can be used on product development, litigation support for a case, or consulting a company on how to make improvements in day to day operations.

Case example:

Personal Injury – Human Factors (School – fire extinguisher)Expertise Contribution: Case involves a student at a high school who was pushed and subsequently put their hand through the glass enclosure of the fire extinguisher cabinet. Humatec was engaged to use human factors to analyze the situation and help determine whether the glass enclosure was appropriate in this situation and to evaluate the design of the cabinet for possible alternative designs.

Personal Injury – Swimming Pool – Human Factors – Warnings
Expertise Contribution: Case involved a swimmer at a resort that dove into the swimming pool and hit their head on the bottom of the pool sustaining serious injury. Humatec was engaged to use human factors and biomechanics to help determine whether the safety warnings / markings were adequate for the situation.

Personal Injury – Trip and Fall – Human Factors
A public venue was the location of a serious fall and personal injury. The fall was the result of a functional perception error regarding the apparent flooring leading to an exit. In reality the flooring in question was in fact at two different heights, the height differential was over 3 feet. The patron standing on the upper level “perceived” that the flooring was of the same material and same elevation and could there for “walk directly out” the exit door.
The patron stepped off the upper level floor and fell to the lower level sustaining injury.