Are current risk assessment methods adequately tailored to human factors requirements of usability testing?

PUBLISHED 27th November 2017

This is a question without one answer. MDU ltd. is honoured to have been given the opportunity at the annual Ergonomics and Human Factors conference (EHF2018 – http://events.ergonomics.org.uk/event/ehf2018/) to host a discussion on this very question. The intention of the discussion will be for Human Factors practitioners from industry and academia to discuss experience with uFMEAs and risk assessment methods used when designing validation studies. It is a familiar experience when working with uFMEAs for the document to be dictated by SOPs that were originally designed for risk assessment focusing on ‘design’ or ‘engineering’, however ‘usability’ is a focus of its own, and risk assessment methods should reflect that.

The design of validation studies is heavily dictated by the uFMEA, and current methods can cause a low-risk product to have a high-risk profile in the HFE report. There is also the risk of the product having a lot of design recommendations for ‘critical’ tasks that don’t actually have any bearing on safety from a usability perspective. This can all work against the product and result in revalidation. It is necessary for practitioners to discuss experiences with uFMEAs and what adaptations are made to tailor the current methods to ones that are practicable with usability testing. The aim of the discussion will be the beginning of moving the current methods forward to a place where risk assessment method for usability testing are robust and tailored to usability testing.

The primary focus of this discussion will be in the context of medical devices, however professionals from high-risk industries are welcome as HF techniques are often adaptable across industries. The discussion is currently (Monday 27th November) scheduled for 2pm on Tuesday 24th April 2018 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole. It would be a pleasure to see some familiar faces!

Registration for the conference is now open, register at http://events.ergonomics.org.uk/event/ehf2018/