Human Factors

Human systems engineering – integrating human factors principles into the development of complex systems

human factors

Making work practices safer, more efficient and more comfortable. We understand how to match the design of technology and systems to the abilities and preferences of the people using them.

Our Approach

Acmena consultants are committed to developing systems, technologies and environments to fit the needs of users for a safer, more efficient and enjoyable way of life.

Research shows that the majority of accidents, including workplace accidents, are caused by human factors rather than by technology or equipment faults. Key to reducing risk to people is to design public spaces, workplace facilities, equipment and processes around the tasks to be performed and consider the variabilities, capabilities and expectations of their users.

Bad design leads to a bad user experience, often resulting in negative, derogatory remarks, resistance to change and, in the workplace, low morale. Bad design can also make an operator’s job needlessly awkward and inefficient.

Good design on the other hand provides a safer more efficient process and environment, greater user comfort and a positive user experience.

Early human factors involvement in any design process ensures the design:

  • is driven by user needs and requirements (human centred design)
  • accounts for the users’ physical variability and performance capabilities, promoting user comfort and reducing potential for human error
  • process and products meet the required human factors, railway, health and safety, and other applicable standards, such as accessibility.

The benefits to organisations are:

  • A reduction in the number of design iterations and amount of costly rework
  • Easier approvals for compliance with legislative requirements
  • Reduced project costs overall
  • A positive user experience, increasing the successful uptake of new technology, environments or processes, and reducing resistance to change
  • Increased efficiency in use
  • Fewer incidents in use.

Our human factors services include:

Strategic Support and Organisational Change

We can provide support and guidance for your organisational change or process improvement initiatives by:

  • Integrating human factors good practice with current organisational or systems engineering practices
  • Applying our knowledge of human behaviour and engaging and managing stakeholders, mitigating potential for conflicts
  • Applying recent research in ‘Just’ safety culture and resilience engineering techniques

Human Factors Integration, Human Systems Integration, Human Factors Management

We specialise in the management of innovative, complex, sociotechnical systems in advanced train control projects.

  • We can provide human factors management services for every stage of your project, from initial concept to operational roll-out
  • We can help you to identify the human-centric activities which will provide the greatest benefits to your project or organisation, and help develop, improve or implement the processes to realise those benefits
  • We can help ensure the broader system context is considered from multiple perspectives, and those of key importance to the success of the program are prioritised. By early engagement of primary, secondary and tertiary stakeholders, and the whole safety lifecycle, from concept to operation, maintenance and decommissioning
  • We can help to integrate the human factors program with the engineering and safety programs, ensuring that any human factors issues identified are disseminated early and escalated to Risk Registers and Hazard Logs appropriately. In short that a systems engineering approach is achieved

Human Factors Engineering

We adopt a risk-based, user-centred design approach applying appropriate methods, targeted to your project needs.  We follow evidence-based, good practice guidance, using Australian (AS), railway (CENELEC) and international (ISO) standards where appropriate.

We provide human factors guidance based on standards applicable to the design, such as:

  • AS 62508 (dependability),
  • ISO 9241 (human system interaction),
  • ISO 18529 (HF integration process),
  • ISO 11064 (control rooms) and others.

We carry out appropriate human factors design activities, such as:

  • Developing the concept of operations
  • Identifying the full set of users and specifying their profiles
  • Determining user needs and task goals, and developing the HF requirements
  • Engaging stakeholders to consolidate understanding or obtain design feedback via workshops, user working groups, survey questionnaires, interviews or direct observation.

We conduct analyses either as a baseline for change, or to assess a design solution. The types of analysis are many and varied but include:

  • Task analysis – the fundamental HF tool to ensure any design meets operational need and supports human performance and provide a thorough understanding of the job. It can be high-level, or detailed depending on what subsequent activity it is supporting and at what stage in the development lifecycle
  • Link analysis  (also known as protocol analysis)
  • Workload analysis
  • Human error analysis
  • Impact of change analysis
  • Ergonomic assessment of interface design, workstation layout, workspace layout, and layout of facilities.

We perform user testing against HF requirements and the concept of operation as part of systems integration testing to provide early confidence that system functionality will meet its HF goals.

We develop, manage and moderate usability trials on early concepts, prototypes, site installations as part of acceptance testing, and operational systems in use.

Human Safety and Risk

Risk reduction So far As Is Reasonably Practicable (SFAIRP) is a requirement of Australian legislation, and consideration of human factors in risk management is a requirement of the standard AS/ISO 31000.

At Acmena our integrated approach to systems and safety, which we call Safety by Design, ensures that we search for potential hazards across all domains of human involvement in all aspects of the system. Using the MANPRINT definition, domains are Manpower, Personnel, Training, Human Factors Engineering, Health, Functional Safety, Survivability and Habitability.

We can:

  • Identify the potential for human errors in your system and recommend risk reduction strategies
  • Conduct Risk Assessments, or provide human-focussed input to your risk assessment activities, and recommend appropriate risk controls as necessary
  • Conduct Human Hazops (HHAZOPS) and Operating & Support Hazard Analyses (O&SHA) as part of your safety program
  • Work closely with your systems and safety engineering staff to ensure adequate and appropriate consideration of the end users in your safety programs

Human Factors Competency Assessment and Training

  • We provide competency-based training courses on human factors
  • We provide mentoring and coaching in the application of human systems integration processes and techniques, human factors engineering methods, positive safety culture and resilience
  • We can assess competency against IEC Competency Criteria for Safety-Related practitioners with Human Factors specialism
  • We can develop and provide training and mentoring to develop your in-house capability
  • We recognise that organisations may prefer to deliver training themselves. We also develop train-the-trainer programs, assess candidate trainers and ensure trainers have attained the level of competence required