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Human factors, also known as ergonomics, is a multi-disciplinary body of knowledge about human abilities, limitations, and other characteristics relevant to product design.  These include size, shape, strength, child development, motor skills, cognitive ability, perception, motivation, and behavior.  Human factors information is used to improve safety, comfort, and efficiency.

In the context of safety, human factors relates how human characteristics, product characteristics, and the environment can interact to produce hazards.  The emphasis is that products should be designed for people, not that people should have to adapt to products, because they won't always do this correctly, resulting in an accident.  Human factors is used to evaluate whether products require capabilities above and beyond those of people.  If so, the product hazard needs to be, in this order,

1)  designed out as much as possible

2)  guarded against by barriers

3)  warned against by labeling

4)  trained against.

 

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