RR1006 - Literature review: Barriers to the application of Ergonomics/Human Factors in engineering design

The purpose of this literature review was to identify barriers to the use of Ergonomics/Human Factors (E/HF) information and principles in engineering design.

Financial considerations, particularly the business strategy of a firm, can lead to managers being unwilling to spend money on using E/HF information, especially if they judge that there will be little financial benefit.

Organisational constraints such as a fixed timetable for bringing a product to market can prevent the use of E/HF in its design. In most design projects, tasks are dispersed across a range of specialists and organisational units. Design compromises must be negotiated between individuals and teams with different goals, and E/HF considerations may be seen as less important than some other factors.

Personal factors are important to the use of E/HF, particularly commitment from individual senior managers who perceive its value. Lack of specific E/HF knowledge among many designers and design engineers means they may fail to identify when E/HF could benefit the products they design. Also, they may not be aware of how to access specialist advice.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-12-14