Human factors/ergonomics is a broad, long established, internationally recognized scientific discipline and system design profession. Human factors and ergonomics professionals improve safety, comfort, and productivity by developing better operator selection criteria, licensing systems, training, operating procedures, and equipment designs. They do this by taking into account detailed scientific knowledge of human biomechanical, physiological, psychological, and anthropometric characteristics.
Knowledge concerning human capabilities and limitations continues to grow as a result of human factors research that has long been supported and/or conducted by the government (e.g., Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, FAA, NASA), industry, and about 65 universities in the United States alone that offer graduate degree programs in human factors and ergonomics. Human factors/ergonomics knowledge is extensively documented in numerous textbooks, scientific journals, design guidelines, and design standards. It has been skillfully applied by human factors and ergonomics practitioners in many practical, real world settings of great diversity, helping people to operate things ranging from hand tools to tractor-trailer rigs to space shuttles more safely and effectively.
The principal professional society representing the needs of human factors and ergonomics professionals in the United States is the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of America. The HFES members, representing 47 countries, participate in over 20 technical and professional groups including Forensics, Safety, Consumer Products, Computer Systems, Environmental Design, Industrial Ergonomics, and others. Annual meetings of the HFES include symposia, scientific workshops, panel discussions, and technical paper presentations that are published in the Annual Meeting Proceedings. Other publications of the HFES include the research journal, Human Factors, and the practitioner-oriented magazine, Ergonomics in Design.
The Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE) provides certification and professional development services to human factors and ergonomics practitioners. The BCPE is an independent certifying organization that has awarded professional certificates to human factors and ergonomics practitioners in fifteen countries.
Dennis Wylie is a board-certified professional ergonomist with more than 40 years’ experience as a human factors specialist in operator fatigue, alertness, vigilance, and transportation safety. He is a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and its Forensic Professional Group, and the International Ergonomics Association.