Human Factors Experts Help Answer Key
What is Human Factors?
Questions About Injury Accidents that Arise
from Pedestrian Hazards, Vehicle Collisions,
and Product Defect Claims
Human factors involves the application
of what we know about people, their abilities, characteristics, and limitations to
the design of equipment they use, environments in which they function, and jobs
they perform. Human factors is a multidisciplinary field grounded in the behavioral and engineering sciences, synonymous with ergonomics where engineering
and psychology meet.
Human factors professionals study
how the limitations and capabilities of
people, including memory, perception, reaction time, judgment, physical size, and
dexterity, affect the way they interact with
the environment, a product, or process.
What Questions Do Human
Factors Experts Answer?
• Could they see it?
• Could they hear it?
• Were they distracted?
• Would they understand it?
• Does that decision make sense?
• Would someone else do that?
• Would they expect that?
When Should You Consider
Retaining A Human
Human Factors experts are frequently engaged in cases involving vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle, and motorcycle collisions; visibility and conspicuity of roadway hazards;
open and obviousness of slips, trips, and
falls; workplace injuries; lighting analysis;
and sound measurements.
Human factors experts are often called
upon to assist vehicle accident recon-
struction experts when difficult questions
arise in the reconstruction process. For
example, “How fast could someone re-
spond? Could the driver see the pedes-
trian or hazard? What if the street lighting
were different? Could the driver tell that
the vehicle ahead was stopped? Was the
driver distracted? Did the driver make a
safe or smart decision? Did talking on the
cell phone matter?” Typically, a human
factors expert deals with everything that
happens pre-impact and the accident re-
constructionist deals with impact onward.
Construction Zone Accidents
Construction zone cases are common
areas of practice. Did the construction
zone provide the necessary information
to guide the driver safely through the
zone without conflict? Did it provide positive guidance?
Premises Liability Incidents
Human factors experts can evaluate design, construction, maintenance, and use
of the premises, as well as in various
products and transportation systems that
played a role in the incident. The human
factors expert can assess information-processing, such as eye scanning patterns, focus of attention, sensory cues,
competing stimuli, task loading, user expectations, and impairments. Key questions for the expert include: “Was the
alleged hazard open and obvious? Could
the user see it or hear it? Was the lighting
sufficient? Would more light have made
the hazard detectable?”
Products Liability Matters
Each year, thousands of fatal accidents
arise from alleged product design de-
fects, manufacturing defects, and fail-
ures to warn. Defects oftentimes in-
volve core human factors/ergonomics
principles affecting a user’s reasonable
expectations about products and their
use(s). The human factors/ergonomics
approach in product cases focuses on
the hierarchy of controls which speci-
fies that dangerous features first be
designed-out of the product or, second,
protected by shields or guards. Warn-
ings, instructions, and/or training ad-
dressing proper use and any foresee-
able misuse are required if the other
two options are not possible. G
By Jason D. Jupe, PE, ACTAR, Senior Consultant — Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. Mr.
Jupe is a licensed professional engineer and
consulting expert with Rimkus Consulting
Group, Inc. where his professional practice is
focused on vehicle accident reconstruction,
vehicle design and performance, mechanical
engineering, failure analysis, and transportation safety with special emphasis on human
factors, ergonomics, vision and perception,
and cognitive engineering. He has performed
accident reconstruction and engineering
analyses on hundreds of cases involving
human factors issues, commercial tractor/
trailers, passenger vehicles, pedestrian accidents, bicycle and motorcycle collisions, and
vehicle rollovers. Mr. Jupe has testified as an
expert witness at deposition, mediation and
trial settings. For more information, contact
Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. at 800-580-
3228 or go to www.rimus.com.
CLAIMS VENDOR SHOWCASE