human factors engineering

Human Factors Engineering

To err is human, to mitigate divine

Whether you are a control room operator or manager, you know that optimizing the human performance results in reduced operation risk, which leads to a safe plant and safe workers, which benefits everyone.

And the opposite is true—ignoring human factors in control room design can have catastrophic consequences for the plant, its workers, and the surrounding environment, which can lead to a traumatized and/or incapacitated workforce and costly lawsuits that take decades to resolve. Human Factors Engineering applies science-based knowledge concerning a human being’s physical and psychological capabilities and limitations to the design of devices and systems for human use. There is no more relevant place to implement this science than in the design of a control room

BAW Architecture pioneered HFE principles and the ergonomic design of control centers decades ago, blazing a trail that would eventually transform control room design practices industry-wide. Our Human Factors Engineering (HFE) experience includes 10 years at the ASM® Consortium. A deep, nuanced understanding of how HFE influences the 24-hour control room work environment makes BAW without peer in the industry. Find out more about the 11 reasons why BAW is the global leader in control room design.

You cannot afford to ignore HFE

As a company who has done dozens of renovations of old control rooms, we at BAW Architecture can safely say that when you invest in HFE upfront it will save you money in the end. Safe, productive, efficient operators make for a safe, productive, efficient and very profitable plant. And human performance is intrinsically linked to system performance. If the human fails, so does the system.

Let’s take a moment to revisit the Texas City Refinery explosion of 2005. This was a perfect storm of human factors failures. Critical information was on two different screens. Operators were operating under excessive workload and were significantly fatigued. There was a lack of supervision that deviated from standard procedure. Alarms failed to go off and no one was aware of the disaster unfolding. The vapor cloud released, ignited, and the explosion killed 15 people and injured 170 others. This tragic event was the catalyst for an exhaustive industry-wide re-examination of human factors within safety critical processes.

The whole point of HFE is to pinpoint the potential for risk, then take steps to reduce that risk. No one does that better in control rooms than BAW.

Not just a cog in the wheel

It all boils down to this: modern day technology is progressing at light speed, but humans have evolved over millions of years yet don’t change at that rapid a pace. How does one resolve that tension? How does one optimize the human interface to achieve maximized safety and productivity? With BAW, the design starts with the operator and works out from there. BAW then employs principles from cognitive psychology, organizational psychology, industrial design, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and anthropometry to achieve optimum integration of the human operator into the technological environment.

The main components of HFE are detailed in ISO 11064 [Ergonomics Design of Control Centres] which provides guidance for the following aspects:

  • Part 1 – Principles for the design of control centers
  • Part 2 – Principles for the arrangement of control suites
  • Part 3 – Control room layout
  • Part 4 – Layout and dimensions of workstations
  • Part 5 – Displays and controls
  • Part 6 – Environmental requirements for control centers
  • Part 7 – Principles for the evaluation of control centers

BAW ensures that your control room design is ISO 11064 compliant in every regard, to the highest possible degree, no matter where in the world you are located.

Contact BAW to find out more.

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