It's National Ergonomics Month!

Sunday, October 1, 2017


The 14th National Ergonomics Month (NEM) has just begun, an awareness-building campaign designated by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society as a time to highlight the work of human factors/ergonomics (HF/E) professionals toward bettering the lives of people around the world.


Some of the diverse areas receiving significant recent HF/E contributions to the design, test, operation, maintenance, and sustainability of products, tools, systems, and environments for human use include the following:

  • Patient safety, including the design of medical devices, guidance regarding handoffs and other procedures, facility design, and home care

  • Robotics and artificial intelligence, including the study and design of collaborative robotic teammates

  • Security and cybersecurity, including intelligence analysis, and airport screening

  • Surface and air transportation, including autonomous and semiautonomous vehicles, driver assistance systems, driver distraction, commercial aircraft systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

NEM has inspired a variety of activities by students and professionals in local communities. Groups participating in NEM Action Plan contests have implemented their plans through a variety of creative outreach endeavors that emphasize the contributions of HF/E science and practice through teaching, learning, networking, service, and fun!


This year’s NEM Best Action Plan winners have developed, and are working to implement, projects that include the following:

  • Georgia Tech is conducting a “5-minutes” HF/E methods education program and hosting The Bad Design Atlanta competition to encourage members of the Atlanta community to spot instances of bad design in their area. The group offers suggestions for addressing poor designs through the application of HF/E principles.

  • Old Dominion University is educating the campus community about how to protect themselves from cyber attacks.

Prior Best NEM Action Plan winners have completed projects like the following:

  • Wichita State University’s HFES student chapter offered Senior Wednesday and HF/E day at Exploration Place Science Center. Members host two HF/E-focused days, one to educate children and their guardians about the principles of HF/E design, and the other, in partnership with the Regional Institute of Aging, geared toward senior citizens.

  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University hosted the Engaging Retail to Grasp Opportunity (ERGO) action plan, in which the group analyzes warehouse environments and provides training for employee self-protection on the job.

For these groups, the activities outlined in the action plans extend throughout the year to ensure that members of the community know how important HF/E is in the creation of safe and usable  products, technologies, and systems.


In honor of National Ergonomics Month, HFES is offering limited-time free access to all the Society’s journals and proceedings. Register for the free trial at


Visit the National Ergonomics Month Web site to find out how you can help spread the word about how HF/E makes the world a more user-friendly place.


Finally, check out the NEM Expo, to be held at the HFES Annual Meeting in Austin, TX, on Monday, October 9 from 4:45 to 6:15 p.m. in the Lone Star West Foyer on Level 3 of the JW Marriott Austin.


This article was prepared by Elizabeth Phillips and Joseph Keebler, National Ergonomics Month Committee chairs; and Karen Jacobs, Chair, HFES Outreach Division. 

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society is the world’s largest scientific association for human factors/ergonomics professionals, with more than 4,500 members globally. HFES members include psychologists and other scientists, designers, and engineers, all of whom have a common interest in designing systems and equipment to be safe and effective for the people who operate and maintain them. “Human Factors and Ergonomics: People-Friendly Design Through Science and Engineering.”