Human Centred Design for Maritime Safety: A User Perspective on the Benefits and Success Factors of User Participation in the Design of Ships and Ship Systems
Abstract: For over six decades, Human Centred Design (HCD) has been considered a desired design approach for the implementation of Human Factors/Ergonomics (HF/E) knowledge and methods for understanding the needs of the end-users. Although other comparable frameworks exist, they can be seen as subcategories or as tools for HCD, as HCD is considered by some as an overarching approach. This design approach has gradually been integrated into different fields, but engineering sciences have been more reluctant towards embracing its adoption. Although these challenges may be explicable – one of them being that HF/E methods are often not immediately understood and applicable in industrial settings – the maritime sector has begun to overcome these challenges and to understand and highlight the impact of the human element on the safety and efficiency of maritime operations and environmental protection. Nevertheless, more initiative and attention to HF/E is needed. Thus, the work considered in this thesis takes a proactive approach towards the integration of HCD in the maritime domain by involving maritime end-users in a discussion about the opportunities of human-centred and participatory design. This was done through two focus group interviews with two different participant samples of end-users, with special focus on the navigation of merchant vessels. The analysis of the focus group interviews was guided by a Grounded Theory approach. The work presented in this thesis is part of the project Crew-Centered Design and Operation of Ships and Ship Systems (CyClaDes), supported by funds from the European Commission and its Seventh Framework Programme. The CyClaDes project intended to promote the increased potential impact of HF/E and HCD knowledge on ship design and operations, by understanding where and how to best integrate it and where and how barriers to its integration occur. The findings in this thesis highlight HCD and its participatory principle as a means to attain a set of benefits at a physical, cognitive, psychosocial, organizational, and socio-political levels, and ultimately attain safer maritime operations. The results suggest that successful integration of a human-centred and participatory design philosophy in the maritime domain should include more and appropriate user representativeness within design, rule-making and purchasing to bridge the gap between the requirements of the users and of other stakeholders, between design and usability. The benefits of, and the prerequisites for, successful HCD integration within the complex sociotechnical system of shipping describe a holistic model for maritime HCD.
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