The Human Element in Marine Engine Department Operation: Human Factors & Ergonomics Knowledge Mobilization in Ship Design & Construction
Licentiate thesis, 2014

Physical environments influence how individuals perceive, behave and perform within an operational space and system. Marine engine department operations have dramatically developed from the initial introduction of ship mechanization in the nineteenth century, to ever increasing levels of computerized and automated functions today. This development has contributed to a consistent and continuing reduction of crew numbers, as well as altering engine department work demands and organization. Previous research has revealed an array of occupational hazards and work-related challenges associated with engine department operations, including a growing disconnect between the physical design of the engine department and evolving end-user tasks. These challenges have shown to negatively impact engine crew productivity, safety, health and wellbeing, and moreover, has implications for overall engine department and ship operations. This licentiate thesis investigates three areas which connect physical design and engine department operation from a human-centric perspective: (i) critical analysis of minimum rules and regulations regarding ship design, construction and crew competencies, (ii) exploration of end-user perspectives on functions related to physical design, and (iii) operationalizing the end-user within traditional naval architecture and engineering ship design methods. Results indicate incongruence between the requirements for minimum design, safety and construction standards, and seafarer training and competency requirements. These discrepancies are further extended to their influences upon the conceptual planning and design processes of a new-build ship project. Difficulties in communication and lack of a common understanding between system end-users and design stakeholders hinder effective application of human element knowledge throughout a project’s development. Creating an inter-disciplinary, participatory approach to ship development by integrating human-centered design methods and solutions throughout conceptual ship design can ultimately contribute to safer, more efficient shipping practices once in operation.

Naval Architecture

Knowledge Transfer

Participatory Ergonomics

Work Environment

Marine Engineer

ALFA Seminar Room, SAGA House, Lindholmen Campus
Opponent: Björn Peters


Steven Mallam

Chalmers, Shipping and Marine Technology

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Work Sciences

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

Areas of Advance


ALFA Seminar Room, SAGA House, Lindholmen Campus

Opponent: Björn Peters

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