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Human Factors, also referred to as ergonomics, human engineering or usability research, is the scientific discipline that applies theory, principles, data and method to design in order to optimise how humans behave physically and psychologically in relation to particular environments, products, or services.
Human factors are a consideration for design across a wide range of industries and ultimately ensure that the end user can use and interact with the product effectively. This becomes more important in sectors such as healthcare/medical devices due to the ramifications on the patient if this is not the case, or if the patient fails to accept the device altogether. The concept of human factors engineering within medical devices has become more recognised in recent years and is now included in international manufacturing standards and the collected data, plus how human factors have been applied to the design process, now forms part of the FDA regulatory approval within the US. In the last 12 months over 500 thousand companies were declined approval due to failure to display adequate human factors considerations/and or correct application of the human factors data collected during the research phase.
The demand for human factors engineers is growing as organisations become increasingly aware of the benefits of the application of human factors in terms of issues such as safety, comfort and productivity.
Skills required for a career in Human Factors
- Relevant science or engineering degree
- Knowledge/experience of human factors engineering
- Ability to understand technical medical device language
- IT skills
- The ability to work as part of a team as well being able to work on own initiative
- Detail oriented
- Communication & organisational skills
The salary within Human Factors will typically range from around £27,000 for a graduate entry level