Chapter 9

Human Factors in Reliable Design

Jack Dixon

Human Factors Engineering

Human factors engineering (HFE) is a specialty engineering discipline that focuses on designing products and systems with the user in mind. The goal of HFE is to maximize the ability of a person or a crew to properly operate and maintain a product or a system by eliminating design-induced impediments and errors and to improve system reliability. It is important that the design engineer recognize the limitations as well as the capabilities and preferences of the human being in the system. A product that has been designed from this perspective will offer better customer satisfaction, require less training to operate and maintain, and will produce fewer errors and failures.

Human factors engineering is defined by MIL-STD-1908 [1] as “the application of knowledge about human capabilities and limitations to system or equipment design and development to achieve efficient, effective, and safe system performance at minimum cost and manpower, skill, and training demands. Human engineering assures that the system or equipment design, required human tasks, and work environment are compatible with the sensory, perceptual, mental, and physical attributes of the personnel who will operate, maintain, control and support it.”

Human factors engineering as we know it today has its origin in World War II due to military needs to design and operate aircraft safely. Prior to that time, human beings were typically screened ...

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