The Human Connection

The Human Connection
25 April 2016 frances

Professor Sarah Sharples, CIEHF president 2015-2016, discusses ‘The Human Connection,’ case studies that demonstrate the value of ergonomics and human factors

At the Ergonomics and Human Factors conference in 2015 I formally took on the role of President of the Institute. I took the opportunity to talk to many members at the conference about their priorities and needs, and one of the many things that came through our conversations was the need for an value for evidence that would help us to spread the word about the value of E/HF to a broader group.

I’ve always been aware that I, like many others will be, am only really aware of the detail of work and activities in which I’ve directly been involved. As President I considered my job to talk more broadly about work that our membership as a whole has been involved in. I knew from talking to colleagues that there were a number of stories of where E/HF had made a real difference out there, but didn’t know where to get the detail about them, or how to communicate them in a way that would help us make the case for E/HF. We are very fortunate that E/HF spans so many different contexts, from healthcare, energy, transport and manufacture, but this also presents a challenge in representing such a broad range of activities in an accessible way.

So we set in place the mission to establish a set of clear and resonant case studies. After distributing a call for contributions to our membership, and receiving a number of submissions of work that had been done, in October, a small group of us met for 23 hours in Nottingham to set the goals for our document, identify criteria for selection of case studies, and to work through each submitted case and select and group them. We also worked through the key messages that we wanted to communicate to industry, educators, policy makers and research funders.

I’m delighted that now, after a tremendous amount of hard work from Frances Brown and Tina Worthy, as well as all those who submitted cases, along with some very constructive and diligent reviewers, we have produced ‘The Human Connection‘. This publication, aims to demonstrate how ergonomics and human factors can improve lives, business and society.

We have received endorsements for the document from Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough, and Professor Andrew McNaughton, Technical Director of HS2. The document begins with an outline of the priorities for industry, policy makers, research funders and educators which we identified during the thought leadership workshop. We then follow with a very brief overview of some of the goals of E/HF, to enable people who are not so familiar with our discipline to understand our particular methods and approaches. We then present the 24 case studies that cover a range of ergonomics and human factors, as well as a range of sectors.

It was great to receive such positive comments about the documents at the 2016 conference. One thing that has come up is that people are keen to contribute more cases themselves. We are going to repeat the process of case study submission and selection on an annual basis, so will issue a call for cases later this year.

I hope you find ‘The Human Connection’ useful. We hope it will help all of our members to communicate the value of E/HF to colleagues, students and collaborators. We’re also making each case study individually available to download. I look forward to hearing about your experiences of using this document, and to building up a large body of excellent cases of E/HF work over the years ahead.

Download ‘The Human Connection.’