Ergonomics of Very Large IT Projects

Ergonomics of Very Large IT Projects

Matthew Guah (Erasmus School of Economics, The Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-546-7.ch008
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Medical accidents, such as those that occur as a consequence of errors in medical systems, rarely happen because of a single failure. They are usually the consequence of a multiple breakdown in the system. This chapter explores the potential for risk and, demonstrates the need to improve design interventions in a VLITP context. It considers issues that range from the design, packaging and labelling of VLITP environment in which medical systems error might occur. The ergonomics systems approach to VLITP is an appropriate method for involving all key users and for addressing their needs. This requires generic issues to be considered. Such issues include: task design, interface analysis, communication interface, variation in user characteristics, and needs (including motivation and culture), training needs, work organizational issues, and the evaluation of interventions and current practice.
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What Is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the intense application of ‘user compliance’ when designing technology. This approach, during VLITP implementation, puts human needs and capabilities at the focus of designing technological systems. The aim is to ensure that humans and technology work in complete harmony, where the equipment and tasks aligned to human characteristics (Stappers et al, 2007). Ergonomics has a wide application to everyday domestic situations, but there are even more significant implications for efficiency, productivity, safety and health in work settings including:

  • Designing equipment and information systems that make IT easier to use and less likely to lead to errors in after rolling the system out. This is particularly important in high stress and safety-critical operations such as server rooms.

  • Designing tasks and jobs so that they are effective and take account of human needs such as rest breaks and sensible shift patterns, as well as other factors such as intrinsic rewards of work itself.

  • Designing equipment and work arrangements to improve working posture and ease the load on the body, thus reducing instances of repetitive strain injuries and other work related disorder in limbs.

  • Information systems being designed to make the interpretation and use of instructional materials, leaflets and books, signs, and displays easier and less error-prone.

  • Design of training arrangements to cover all significant aspects of the job concerned and to take account of human learning requirements.

  • Designing working environments, including lighting and heating, to suit the needs of the users and the tasks performed. This could also involve the design of personal protective equipment for work and hostile environments.

  • For people with minimum experience with IT, this may include assistance by enhancing basic technology for easier acceptability and effectiveness.

The multi-disciplinary nature of ergonomics (sometimes called ‘Human Factors’) is immediately obvious (Buckle et al, 2003; Mohamed and Irani, 2004). Ergonomics can be applied in connections with a variety of other professions: design engineers, production engineers, industrial designers, computer specialists, industrial physicians, health and safety practitioners, and specialists in human resources. The overall aim of involving ergonomist in VLITP is to ensure that VLITPs consider existing knowledge of human characteristics and concentrate on practical problems of people at work and in leisure. While many existing systems relay people capacity to adapt to unsuitable conditions, such adaptations quite often lead to inefficiency, errors, unacceptable stress, and physical or mental cost to individuals (Midden and De Vries, 2006). Figure 1 shows a human-task-environment, which demonstrates influences human have on performance of a system in the host organization, taking into consideration the systems nature of ergonomics. The final objective of ergonomics is to ensure working in VLITP environments do not result in eyestrain and muscle fatigue or some other human irritations and inconveniences which are currently not inevitable.

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