Human errors

Upon the conclusion of the action stage, the manipulation of the controls becomes the machine’s input, which causes the machine to perform the requested action. Subsequent changes in the operating status are then communicated to the operator via displays, and the cycle continues. Apart from designing operator-machine system, human factors psychologists are also concerned with minimizing the number of errors produced by them.

Swain et al. (1983) outline four main types of errors produced by operator-machine systems: omission errors (the failure to do something), commission errors (the incorrect performance of an act), sequence errors (the performance of series of tasks out of order) and timing errors (the performance of an act either too quickly or too slowly). There are two main approaches of dealing with human errors.

One of these is the personnel approach, which is a two-pronged method involving the selection of only those workers who possess the skills and expertise required to operate the system flawlessly and training workers to safely perform their jobs with minimum number of errors. The second is the design approach, which involves designing machines, procedures and environments that reduce the likelihood of errors and the consequences of those errors.

Another important aspect of human factors is workspace design, which is the endeavor to create efficient, productive and comfortable work setting by the careful design and arrangement of equipment, space and machinery within a work environment. Three main types of individual work stations exist, each of which are tailored to meet specific needs. One of them is the seated workstation, which are used when all machines needed to perform the job are comfortably within reach and the work involves no heavy lifting or forceful movements.

Examples of such jobs include clerical tasks and fine assembly work. The second type of workstation is the standing workstation, which is ideal for work involving handling of heavy objects and the worker’s frequent movement from place to place. Examples of such jobs include large assembly work in factories and packaging and wrapping operations. The third type is the combined work station, that are ideal for jobs involving multiple tasks, some performed while seated while others while standing.

It is also ideal for jobs involving the worker doing seated work but most repeatedly reach high or low distances. An example of such a job includes that of a draftsman. McCormick et al. (1993) have outlined some basic principles governing the location and arrangement of machines and space. One of these is the importance principle, according to which the most important operations should take place in a central location and crucial displays should be placed directly in front of the operator.

Another rule is the frequency-of-use principle, which stipulates that machines or controls that are used often should be conveniently located. The functional principle states that functionally related components should be grouped together. The sequence-of-use principle requires items to be placed in the order they will be used. In summary, human factors in work design concerns with the design of work machines, systems and environments. (b) Giving reasons for your answer, suggest an efficient workspace design for a student.

An efficient workspace design for a student could take the form of a seated workstation, comprising of a desk and seat. This is an appropriate choice of workstation for two reasons: first, all books and supplies needed by the student can be comfortably placed within the reach of the seated student; second, the work of a student does not entail heavy lifting or forceful movements. The desk should be spacious enough to accommodate the storage of all necessary items of use, including books, stationery and such devices as table clocks, lamps, computers and related hardware.

To avoid the desk taking too much space, the desk should incorporate various compartments such as shelves, cabinets and drawers, for the storage of books, writing material, and stationery, leaving the desk empty for the computer hardware and items of immediate use. These compartments should be of varying shapes and sizes, so that all items to be stored can be grouped by function – as stipulated by the functional principle – resulting in an organized, clutter-free environment for the student The seat should be designed so that the student is at the proper height and distance from the desk.

They should also be fashioned so that a student who is seated for long periods do not experience back or leg strain. Also, the workspace should not only be designed for functional efficiency, but its characteristics must also be psychologically appealing (Donald, 1994). Therefore, it should be located in a place where extraneous noises are at their minimum. Also, the area should be properly illuminated, preferably with fluorescent lighting that provides increased illumination, better light distribution and reduced energy cost, as compared to incandescent lighting. Also, care must be taken not to overlight the work area.

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