Part 3: Domain-specific issues

This part of the book has 15 chapters, which summarise some of the key, industry-specific issues and challenges for practitioners. Working as an human factors and ergonomics (HF/E) practitioner in different industries provides an incredibly varied set of challenges and rewards and requires skills, knowledge and ways of working which differ from domain to domain. This Part is not intended to cover every industry, and within each there is much more that could be said by many others, also very differently, but it gives a flavour of HF/E in practice in a wide range of industrial contexts.

We begin with a Chapter (Chapter 13 by Ken Catchpole and Shelly Jeffcott), on HF/E in healthcare. Ken and Shelly describe the healthcare system as complex, opaque and prone to accidents, and as such there are challenges for the HF/E practitioner. There is, however, considerable interest in HF/E, and significant potential.

The next chapters consider two modes of transport. In Chapter 14 (Ben O’Flanagan and Graham Seeley) explores HF/E practice in the rail industry. Ben and Graham consider the unique characteristics of this sector, which make it a fascinating and challenging place to be as a practitioner. Chapter 15 (Jean Pariès and Brenton Hayward) concerns aviation, a sector with a long tradition of human factors in many aspects of the sector. Jean and Brenton reflect on their diverse experience with regard to issues of HF/E practice in aviation personnel selection, in aviation training, in equipment design and certification, focusing especially on aviation safety management, and aviation safety occurrence investigation. Chapter 16 (Ben Cook and Ryan Cooper) goes on to consider aviation in a military environment. Ben and Ryan discuss the tactical applications of HF in military aviation and the array of challenges and opportunities to enhance operational effectiveness and safety.

The so-called ‘process industries’ also often have significant HF/E involvement. Some of these are also ‘high hazard’ industries. Chapter 17 (Robert Miles and Ian Randle) discusses HF/E practice in one such industry: oil and gas. Robert and Ian consider the role of HF/E in major capital projects followed by a detailed and very practical consideration of human factors safety issues in operations. Chapter 18 (Clare Pollard) turns our attention toward HF/E in the nuclear industry, with its focus on helping to deliver safety. Clare describes the multiple features that characterise this industry and the opportunities to design systems and processes to help ensure the safety of workers and the public. We then consider manufacturing in Chapter 19 (Caroline Sayce and Fiona Bird), in the context of defence (submarines) and rail (rolling stock). Caroline and Fiona consider HF/E as part of a multi-disciplinary design process within a requirements-driven engineering environment.

Chapter 20 (John Wilkinson) stays within the field of process industries, but takes on a regulatory perspective on human and organisational factors, with respect to the formation and compliance with legislation to protect health and safety. John gives an experiential account of working in this field as a former regulator, considering the needs, challenges and opportunities in this field.

We then turn to HF/E in a range of consumer product and digital service contexts. Chapter 21 (Daniel Jenkins) considers human factors and ergonomics practice for consumer product design. Daniel describes how, unlike the high-hazard process industries, few standards or regulations mandate the involvement of HF/E in this sector, so it must be justified by helping to design products that are more usable and desirable, and have the greatest chance of commercial success. Accessibility is one aspect that is the focus of legislation and standards, but these can have unintended consequences. Chapter 22 (Edward Chandler and Phil Day) discusses how the needs of disabled people can be included in mainstream digital and technological solutions, avoiding a ‘race to the bottom’ or building niche solutions for separate user groups. Many suppliers of products designed for human interaction offer ‘ergonomic products’ or refer to the ‘ergonomic features’ of their products. Chapter 23 (Guy Osmond) considers the issues involved in selling ‘ergonomic products’, an area where there is only superficial understanding of ergonomics and what it can achieve. Guy emphasises different approaches for different applications.

The subsequent chapters consider two very different aspects of digital services, both fast-growing and limited in regulation and standards. The user experience (UX) field has grown considerably over the past decade. Chapter 24 (Lisa Duddington) considers how this increasing demand, along with financial and time constraints, may contribute to weaker connections with the discipline of HF/E. Lisa describes issues of limited UX practitioner competency and research. At the other end of the digital spectrum is the fast-growing field of web engineering and operations, the subject of Chapter 25 (John Allspaw). John consider the possibilities for HF/E in a complex and opaque domain that crosses geographic and geopolitical boundaries yet has no singular overarching framework or body for regulations and standards.

We end this Part by moving from the newest sectors to two of the oldest. Chapter 26 (Daniel Hummerdal and Stuart Shirreff) considers HF/E in the construction and demolition industry. Daniel and Stuart outline dimensions that may be relatively unique to the construction and demolition industries with each aspect providing a challenge and an opportunity for HF/E. Chapter 27 (Dave O’Neill and Dave Moore) provides a comprehensive overview of HF/E practice in a diverse and complex sector of worldwide and fundamental relevance: agriculture.