ASCI 611 Paper, Summer 2008
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Abstract: This is a descriptive paper on Human Factors, specifically how the interaction between man and machine can produce conditions that are unsafe and contribute to accidents, injury, loss of property and loss of life. It will identify several Human Factors that come into play when man operates machines. It will provide current and historical information that will depict trends, and practices that impact safety and accidents. It discusses legislation and compensations, the establishment of OSHA and the NIOSH. I have used information from books, and the internet to create this paper.
Introduction: The origin of Human Factors go back much farther than the industrial revolution. The interaction between man and machine has unfortunately contributed to hundreds of thousands of accidents, to include loss of limb, property and life. The desire to increase production in industry spread like a wildfire during WWII. Consequently the number of major and minor accidents went up dramatically. The workers and their families wanted a safety net, some type of insurance or cash compensation to protect them against loss of work/income due to serious injury.
Billions and billions of dollars are spent each year on Research and Development (R&D). The success of R&D is very good; because of it we can now do things like deploy a nuclear powered submarine under the Arctic Ocean for extreamly long periods of time with almost zero impact to the crew. We can build manned spacecraft, and aircraft that can fly faster than the speed of sound. We have capabilities well beyond most people of the same generation’s wildest dreams.
Workplace safety has been an issue for more than 100 years. The fact that workers had been sustaining a growing number of injuries was the topic of conversation around water coolers and the subject of many lawsuits. Under “common law”, the employers have the responsibility to provide “safe tools” and a “safe work” place for their employees. However little to nothing was done to ensure this was the case. The biggest problem was when an injury occurred, in order to receive compensation the burden of proof was on the employee. The employee had to prove negligence on the employer’s behalf. Companies could defend themselves by “claiming that either (1) there had been contributory negligence (meaning that an injured person’s behavior contributed to the accident); (2) a fellow employee has been negligent; or (3) the injured worker has been aware of the hazard of the job and had knowingly assumed the risk (Becker, 2004, p. 353).
Workers Compensation and Liability Workers Compensation is a type of insurance that requires companies to pay premiums just like any other type of insurance. Workers comp has a prevision that does not allow the employee to sue the employer; they can sue parties such as the safety inspector, the driver of the vehicle involved if applicable and so forth. New York and Montana were the first two states to pass laws that provided compensation for workers injured on the job. Shortly after they had been passed the laws were deemed unconstitutional and thrown out (Becker, 2004, p. 354).
OSHA and NIOSH agencies The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was a major step on the path to provide workers with an agency of government to work in the area of safety and that consequently was the same side as the employee. The mission of OSHA is to implement safety programs, set and revoke safety standards, conduct inspections, investigate problems, monitor illness and injury, issue citations, assess penalties, provide safety training and a host of other things. Unfortunately, OSHA is a huge bureaucracy which makes things slow to take affect, it also is heavily influenced by political lobbying (Becker, 2004, p.