From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics Important to Russian Military Designs

According to some researchers, Russian naval ship design could be improved with more focus on ergonomics in the research and design stage. Improving ship design, comfort, and human-computer interaction points would also reduce errors that could prove to be fatal for sailors.

Author V.V. Kobzev, in the publication Military Thought, writes that increased awareness of ergonomics would make it possible to create ships with highly reliable and safe performance of their crews (accuracy and timeliness). Good ergonomics would also help ships stay competitive with regard to their technical and aesthetic characteristics. Research in this area is taking place, partially, because it was found that despite critical analysis of information display assets, command and control elements, and the layout and design of combat and command stations, the probability of operator error remained high.

Militaries, both U.S. and foreign are granted some privileges that make ergonomic design a little easier than it would be for your average workplace. For instance, militaries often impose anthropometric restrictions on personnel. This means that their user population has been limited, making designing for the user a bit easier. Also, many militaries keep very detailed physical data records of members. You won’t find many workplaces that have files detailing the height, weight, handedness, and pant size of their employees, which is exactly the kind of information recorded for military populations.

Ergonomics, often referred to as Human Factors Engineering, has a strong history in the U.S. Military. During WWII, the United States invested heavily in research that would make pilots and soldiers perform better and safer. Currently the U.S. and other NATO countries include ergonomics in the design of naval ships. It is often referred to as ‘personnel behavioral functions studies’. What Kobzev and others hope to see in Russia is a protocol for using ergonomics through all stages of research and design.

In addition to the physical designs, psychological designs also need to be looked at. Kobzey states that factors like relationships with coworkers and other personal characteristics determine what is known as the psychological climate in crews and it is of increasing importance for combat effectiveness and accident-free operation of ships.