Specification 113

Specification 113 Guidance for human factors program development By Fred Workley June 1999 Fred Workley is the president of Workley Aircraft and Maintenance Inc. in Manassas, VA. He is on the technical committees of PAMA and NATA...


Chapter 3, "Human Factors Elements," stresses that human factors programs are developed to effect changes. Initially, a new program may have been started to reduce human error, decrease cumulative trauma, improve efficiency, or increase awareness. In the long run, the program will be successful if it is broad-based and dynamic. Regardless of the form and emphasis the human factors program takes, the end result should be an improvement of the entire system.

Chapter 3 also points out that a good reference for starting a program might be the FAA Human Factors Guide for Aviation Maintenance. It covers topics like workforce commitment and support and corporate commitment and support.

In addition, this chapter also points out that the placement of the human factors program in different departments like maintenance, quality assurance, or other departments, depends on the specific organizational culture of the departments.

Chapter 4 identifies aviation maintenance human factors program elements and explains the different ways they may interact. The first element is training. A formal Maintenance Resource Management (MRM) course may be initiated and, as the program matures, very specific training may be needed to address areas of concern.

The second element is maintenance error management. The idea here is to determine how and why maintenance errors occur — with the goal of preventing errors in the future. This will require error reporting and review.

The third element is ergonomics — the applied science with the objective of adapting work or working conditions to enhance the performance of the worker. Ergonomic audits will determine if changes in the workplace made an impact on improving efficiency and reducing errors. Ergonomics are discussed in greater detail in Chapter 7, but the important point in summarizing Chapter 4 is that the three elements — training, error management, and ergonomics — are constantly interacting.

Chapters 5 and 6 expand on training and error management respectively. A key point from Chapter 5 is a preferred training model called the Instructional System Design (ISD) model, which helps to outline needs assessment and analysis, design phase, prototype, validation, adoption, implementation, trainee evaluation, program measurement, and feedback.

Chapter 7 involves a detailed discussion of ergonomics. It provides resources to identify ergonomically-based interventions to solve human performance problems. A common approach in the workplace is to say that human factors deal directly with social and psychological aspects, while ergonomics deal with the physical aspects.

Human factors considerations are reaction time, sensation, perception, and motivation, whereas ergonomics cover things like posture, lifting, and repetitive motion. This chapter focuses on the recognition that humans have physical characteristics that must be considered if a human is to work effectively. It points out a long list of benefits from applying ergonomics to the workplace, again, incorporating a needs assessment and analysis. The model can go either way — fit the person to the job or fit the job to the person.

The goals of the ergonomic program could be to reduce errors, injuries, illness, and health problems, while increasing productivity and improving quality. The chapter discussed in detail the ergonomic interventions based on findings and corrective actions from ergonomic audits.

This new specification is a "how to approach" to a human factors program. It is a condensation of many sources of information and a long list of selected references. I feel that it may be the starting point for organizations to bring people together to discuss plans for implementing an effective human factors program.

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