U.S. Navy Human Factors Engineering

Members of the Naval Safety Center and affiliated support personnel conducted Human Factors Engineering (HFE)/safety evaluations of two in-port Navy ships to assess the vessels’ compliance with accepted HFE/safety design standards and HFE/safety ‘best practices’. The intent was not to identify parties responsible for any deficiencies, but to translate the surveys/assessments into a user-friendly pictorially-oriented HFE/safety lessons learned design guide based on real world examples for use by both ship acquisition program management and designers for application to existing and future ship programs.
Over five hundred specific HFE/safety design deficiencies were identified during the assessments, along with a number of more general findings. These represent HFE/safety issues that will directly or indirectly impact ship operations, maintenance and crew safety.
The type of deficiencies found covered the full spectrum of known HFE/safety shipboard hazards, ranging from insufficient access for maintenance to improper hazard warning labels and operating instructions, from lack of spatial relationships to a lack of consistency in design or placement of identical pieces of equipment in different locations throughout the ship, and in some cases, a lack of safety equipment that presents significant hazards to personnel. This paper describes the assessment methodology, guidance and recommendations on how to properly address HFE/safety design issues throughout Navy ship acquisition process lifecycle.

It is important to note that the findings and the corresponding benefits to the identified corrective actions are generally consistent with similar issues found in commercial vessels and offshore platforms. INTRODUCTION Human Factors Engineering (HFE) is the specialized engineering discipline concerned with ensuring that systems are designed to match the capabilities and limitations of the personnel, which will operate and maintain them. HFE is one of the critical elements of Human Systems Integration (HSI), which is the U.
S. Navy’s systems engineering approach, implemented by the HSI Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Directorate (SEA 03), that considers the human a critical component of the ship. HFE combines knowledge of human psychological, physical and social capabilities and limitations with traditional engineering principles and procedures to design ship systems, equipment and software from the user’s point of view. Ship system(s)/equipment(s) must be designed with consideration for the personnel that will install, use and maintain them.
Failure to do so, can lead to human error, which can result in serious mishaps as well as injuries to the crew, poor maintenance and operation, and crew dissatisfaction. Studies have shown that the most prevalent cause of accidents and other maritime casualties on military and commercial ships and offshore structures is due to human error (Rothblum 2000, USCG 1995, Bryant 1991). A high fraction of such events have been associated with environments and design configurations that increase the potential for error or fail to mitigate its consequences (Reason 1990, Dekker 2000).
DOD, Navy and commercial acquisition program requirements and design criteria/guidance have increasingly stressed the integration of HFE into the systems engineering and design processes for military ships. The U. S. Naval Research Advisory Committee (NRAC) has estimated that including human elements in the initial design phases of ships and equipment could improve their effectiveness and availability by 30%, survivability by 15% and reduce the number of casualties by 10%, while reducing personnel by 20%.
Concurrently, the Secretary of Defense has issued policy memoranda establishing initial and subsequent objectives of reducing DOD-wide mishaps by 50 and then 75 percent (Chu 2003, SECDEF Memo 19 May 2003). While the principal benefit of the incorporation of HFE/safety design requirements and best practices is the reduction of human errors and improved crew safety, the application of HFE/safety principles has the potential of creating significant life cycle cost savings for the ship program office.
In an effort to determine if Navy HFE requirements and guidelines have been effectively translated to operational ship design and to assess opportunities to achieve the DoD’s stated mishap reduction goals, CNO 09FB Navy’s Safety Liaison Office conducted a series of HFE/safety assessments of in-service Navy ships. Drawing upon over 40 years of combined HFE/safety and ship acquisition experience in the design and operation of military and commercial ships, in 2005 the authors conducted an on-site HFE/safety design review/assessment on two (2) in-port amphibious assault ships (L-Class).
Using both Navy HFE/safety design requirements and established best practices, the HFE/safety assessments identified issues directly attributable to design that were likely to cause or contribute to human induced errors; inefficiencies that could cause injury or death to ship personnel; reduce operational efficiency; damage to equipment, furnishings or the ship itself; cause environmental pollution; all of which have the potential to reduce the ship’s mission capability.
This systematic assessment highlighted existing HFE/safety best practices and identified configuration deficiencies whose correction should be incorporated into existing and future ship designs. The assessment also provided the evaluated ship with feedback on immediately-correctable identified design deficiencies.
The intent of this project was not to identify parties responsible for any deficiencies, but rather the goal was to conduct a series of surveys/assessments and develop a user-friendly, pictorially-oriented HFE/safety lessons learned design guide based on real-world examples for use by both existing and new ship programs as well as ship and system designers.

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