Ship engine control room design: Analysis of current human factors & ergonomics regulations & future directions
Paper in proceedings, 2013
A ships' engine control room (ECR) is of central importance to the engine department and overall vessel operation. Modern day ships are becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated and computerization has a growing presence in the engine department. A large portion of marine engineering duties are now dedicated to remotely managing equipment from the ECR. In order to optimize control room design and layout from a user-centered perspective numerous safety-critical industries have implemented mandatory regulations which utilize human factors and ergonomics (HF&E) knowledge. However, shipping's highest governing body, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) currently lacks regulatory support in this area. This paper examines international mandatory regulations and non-mandatory guidelines regarding the human element which influence ECR design. Analysis reveals that a disconnect exists between the regulations which specify ship design criteria and those which specify seafarer training competencies and safe operational procedures. From a regulatory perspective ECR design does not support ECR operation. Assessment of current regulatory gaps establishes a base for developing engine department-specific HF&E applications. Safer shipping practices can be fostered by facilitating operational demands through work environment design. However, due to the complexity of international shipping laws mandatory regulations are the only way to ensure effective implementation.