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Human Factors Theory and Workplace Safety

Human beings spend around a third of their lives at the workplace. So it is no surprise that almost seven million Americans get injured at work every year.

The economic impact on companies is enormous due to time lost in productivity. In fact, many of these workplace injuries may have been prevented if the correct precautions had been taken.

To prevent these workplace injuries, businesses will often consult with vocational experts that understand human factors theory and specialize in preventing workplace accidents.

What is Human Factors Theory?

Imagine you walk into a room, down the sidewalk, or interact with a piece of equipment. In each scenario, there are many things that dictate how you behave, how you think, and how the environment impacts you. 

Certain things about our human nature, abilities, and limitations, impact how we act and react. This is called human factors theory. We may not know it, but we are surprisingly predictable. 

Human factors encompass various fields, such as psychology, engineering, and biomechanics. Depending on the domain you are in, the definition might vary slightly.

A human factors expert will often look at different factors when examining how to make a workplace safer. These can include the job itself, the design of the workspace, and how well-suited a person is to carry out their function.

Some human factors which commonly cause workplace accidents or injuries are:

  • Impaired judgment 
  • Distraction
  • Forgetting an important task
  • Insufficient experience or skills
  • Personality mismatched to job
  • Workplace culture

This highlights the need for employee training, proper supervision, and regular inspections.

The Importance of Ergonomics in the Workplace

Ergonomics is the answer to human factors problems in the workplace. It is a science that focuses on improving how employees interact with their environment.

An ergonomics expert will help create a safer working environment and reduce personal injuries such as back aches and wrist pain, burnout, or even slipping and falling at work.

Ergonomics ranges from the layout of a desk to the positioning of controls and protective measures. However, it also has a psychological aspect. High workload, long shifts, poor management, and lack of training can increase the risk of workplace injury.

In fact, even lighting, noise, and poor signage are all examples of poor workplace ergonomics.

Forensic Referral in Personal Injury Cases

When there has been an injury in the workplace, you will need the forensic services of a vocational expert.

Someone trained in human factors issues and ergonomics will be able to provide expert legal testimony about what contributed to a workplace accident and why the work environment led to the incident.

A vocational expert witness will provide an impartial analysis of how much an employee will lose in earnings from their injury and how bad their disability is.

Improve Workplace Safety with a Human Factors Expert

An expert in human factors theory can help you design your workplace to avoid injuries and keep employees happy. However, when a personal injury has occurred, they will also provide expert legal testimony to explain what happened.

If you are interested in hiring an expert, we invite you to contact our vocational and ergonomics experts at Solutions Norhtwest Inc. for advice or services. Our experts are involved in personal injury, workers’ compensation, ergonomics, and family law.

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Olympia, WA 98501
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