control room ergonomics

Control Room Ergonomics

The science of human performance brought to high art

Your control room is no ordinary workspace.

While a typical office worker may ponder the best place for paper clips, your operators are dealing 24/7 with controlling and monitoring safety-critical processes. They need workspaces that are optimized to enable them to perform at the highest standard during all operational scenarios, particularly abnormal situations and emergencies where operator response is time critical. BAW Architecture delivers on the promise of designing inherently safer, healthier and more efficient workspaces.

BAW uses a human centered design process for control room design. Our processes ensure that your control room benefits from industry-leading knowledge of human factors in design.

Our ergonomic design portfolio spans 30 years, and includes over 100 new-build or renovation projects around the globe, for firms such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, ShellFluor, and Honeywell.

Performance through ergonomics in control room design

A control room with around a 30% success rate would obviously be a frightening prospect. But prior to the development of human factors in the human-machine interface—otherwise known as the science of ergonomics—that was the standard rate of success for pilots in WWII. The famous “cockpit studies” revealed that pilots were hitting their targets way less than half of the time. After the war, aircraft and weapons systems were studied in great detail, including line of sight, arc of reach, and the prioritizing of high-level information on dashboards, so that the pilots could react more quickly to critical information. Adjustments were made to the cockpit that reflected these human factors, and without any other intervention, pilot success rate was around double. This triggered the emergence of the ergonomics discipline.

What are the basic elements that need to be taken into account to optimize an ergonomic control room? In brief:

  • Prioritized arrangement of equipment to support task performance
  • Clear presentation and visibility of critical information
  • Layout to support control room interaction and team work
  • Adjustable furniture to physically fit the end user which is also comfortable and supportive
  • Work environment which enhances performance through attention to issues such as lighting, noise and thermal comfort

Great control room design is about supporting effective human performance and ensuring a healthy place to work.

Return on investment through good control room design and ergonomics

Why invest in high-end control room ergonomics design? Few would quibble with the need for investment in the high-tech hardware aspects of a control room system, but in fact the human-machine interface is key to a reliable design. Human factors need to be studied and implemented to get optimized performance from the operators. These key people are engaged in highly cognitive tasks, and are called upon to make split-second decisions with huge safety—and financial—implications. Supporting them in their tasks needs to be job number one.

A review of control room projects was presented in a paper at the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) ‘Hazards 25’ conference in May 2015, showing the difference between control rooms with and without proper ergonomics and the differences in the standard achieved.

Find out more about the 11 reasons why BAW is the global leader in control room design, or contact us to learn more about what our team can do for you.

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