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Changing paradigms for professional engineering practice towards safe design : an Australian perspective
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Yvonne ToftYvonne Toft, Robin HowardRobin Howard, David JorgensenDavid Jorgensen
Engineers have a duty of care to the end users of the systems they design under current statutes and at common law. Considerations such as cognitive compatibility and usability of equipment and system design are becoming issues of increasing importance, as society becomes more reliant on information technology and automation. That engineers contribute to human error in these systems through latent design error and poor management decision-making is well documented. Therefore, the role of engineers can be considered integral to positive outcomes in workplace safety. This research offers an opportunity to understand why engineering design work may be contributing to human error on part of the operator, and offers hope toward a future when engineers will embrace safe design principles. This cross sectional study examines the relationship between professional engineering education and ergonomics. This research specifically addresses the attitudes of engineers to the inclusion of ergonomic principles in engineering practice and in undergraduate engineering curriculum. It was found that the surveyed members of the Australiasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE) had a positive attitude toward the inclusion of ergonomic principles in their design practice. The intensity of their attitude was more positive if they had some previous exposure to ergonomic training. At present few engineering faculties systematically include ergonomic principles in their design courses. The most encouraging finding was the overwhelming support for the inclusion of ergonomic principles in undergradute curriculum. The finding was complimented by current literature suggesting a changing pradigm, one that would facilitate and embrace these concepts, encouraging promotion of sustainable engineering design well into the future.