Designing for Humans

The mission is the prevention of hazards while removing the exposure. Primarily, the intent is to protect workers. This can be accomplished in a number of ways:

  • • Remove the worker by using an automated system or robots.
  • • Remove the employee by placing him/her in a remote/enclosed operator control room.
  • • Design out the hazard.
  • • Design an operator area that fits the operator both physically and environmentally.
  • • Make operation a trainable function.
  • • Design for human factors (make operation fit the majority). Do not place a worker in an untenable position, such as placing a one-armed worker in a two-arm- requirement operation.
  • • If safety and health cannot be designed into an operation, find another way of doing the operation. This is a real commitment to designing for prevention.

Designers' Responsibility

These are the steps just prior to engineering design. The engineers are responsible for the design of processes, systems, machines, and equipment. As a part of the design process, they are charged with designing and incorporating safety and health into their designs.

If they cannot remove the risk in the design phase, then the effort must be to design the least exposure to workers as possible. At times, this can be accomplished by using enclosures or perimeter fencing. If a worker enters points of operations, there need to be interlocks or automatic-shut devices such as presence-sensing devices designed into the system to disengage any operation. Also, warning devices can be incorporated to draw workers' attention to potential risk from hazards.

Designing out hazards is a responsible part of doing business. This will necessitate that a company, business, or organization require, as a condition of purchasing, safety and health to be an integral part of the purchasing agreement. This is before the design process, to foster better control of potential hazards. There must be a dedication to reducing risk as a way of doing business in a safe and healthy manner.

Further Readings

MacLeod, D. The Ergonomics Edge: Improving Safety, Quality, and Productivity. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1995.

McCormick, E.J. Human Factors in Engineering and Design. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.

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