Technical Reports

Human-Centered Technologies Tool

  • 01
  • Apr
  • 2007
AUTHOR: Victor Riley, Stephen Reinach, and Donald Green
SUBJECT: Human Factors
KEYWORDS: Human Factors, human error, operator error, interface analysis tool, interoperability
ABSTRACT: Operator error is a leading cause of incidents and accidents, and equipment design has been shown to facilitate such errors. Human factors expertise is often used to evaluate the design of equipment and user interfaces for their potential to cause, facilitate, or permit human operator error. Developing broad and deep expertise in human factors, however, requires many years of formal training, and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulators are often asked to evaluate equipment and user interface design without the benefit of such training. This report describes the development and evaluation of a computer-based analysis tool to help FRA Office of Safety personnel determine whether specific railroad technology designs may cause operator errors and, if so, what types of errors. The tool allows an analyst to model the layout, physical appearance, and functionality of controls and displays. The tool then applies standard human factors principles to analyze the design for errors that may be caused by factors, such as violation of cultural conventions, inconsistencies within the interface, hidden functions, and inadequate feedback. The tool is designed to evaluate a single interface or compare two interfaces for interoperability. This report describes the software and summarizes the development evaluation effort. It also contains a users’ guide to assist tool users.

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