A related area to human-machine interaction, the design of work environments is concerned with the application of human factors guidelines and practices to the design of workspaces and the working environment. It aims to ensure efficient and reliable operation of equipment in a safe and comfortable working environment by taking into account human capabilities and limitations.
As an example of our work, we reviewed the ergonomic design of a control room that was being upgraded to include new desks, lighting, computer displays and communications systems. The project involved assessments of the lighting, noise levels, alarm systems, furniture (in terms of usability and comfort for a range of personnel) and lines of communication and provided guidance to the design team on ensuring that human capabilities were taken into account.
For another project we inputted into the design and development of a suit of new armoured vehicles for second line ground force operations. The vehicles were to be used for mine clearance, ground excavation and for building bridges. Given that army personnel may spend up to 72 hours within the vehicle at any one time it was essential to ensure the habitability as well as the operability and safety of the work environment. The project also included the design of the command and control panels, armoury interfaces and driving controls. The design was assessed using 3D computer modelling and a user evaluation using a full scale mock up.
Richard Scaife, C.Psychol, Registered Occupational Psychologist
The Keil Centre