Integrating Human Factors & Ergonomics in large-scale engineering projects: Investigating a practical approach for ship design
Journal article, 2015

The human element is a critical component of safe and efficient shipping operations but has struggled to gain comprehensive acceptance across the industry. This investigation explores a practical approach to introduce Human Factors and Ergonomics knowledge early in ship design by utilizing general arrangement drawings as a common platform for stakeholder input throughout ship development. An onboard data collection was completed using a cargo ship and its crew as a case study. A comparative analysis between the ship's two-dimensional general arrangement drawings from which the structure was built, and the constructed onboard work environment was performed. Additionally, the engine crew was job-shadowed and interviewed to gain insight into their work demands and movement within the space. General arrangement drawings were found to be incomplete and when directly compared to a finalized product indicated inaccuracies in design and work environment characteristics, making comprehensive human element evaluations difficult. However, general arrangement drawings were found advantageous in mapping and visualizing logistical routing which can be evaluated early in ship development, positively contributing to crew operations once a ship is constructed. Solving the rudimentary design concerns engine crew struggle with earlier in ship design will provide a better foundation for increasingly detailed development. Relevance to industry: This research investigates a design approach which integrates Human Factors and Ergonomics knowledge in a pragmatic, resource-efficient manner which can positively impact onboard crew operations. An integrative design approach is necessary for widespread acceptance and adoption of human element considerations within naval architecture design and construction methodologies.

Participatory ergonomics

Marine engineer

Naval architect

Link analysis


Task analysis


Steven Mallam

Chalmers, Shipping and Marine Technology, Nautical Studies

Monica Lundh

Chalmers, Shipping and Marine Technology, Nautical Studies

Scott MacKinnon

Chalmers, Shipping and Marine Technology, Nautical Studies

International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics

0169-8141 (ISSN) 18728219 (eISSN)

Vol. 50 62-72

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics



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