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Fitting methods to paradigms: are ergonomics methods fit for systems thinking?

Authors
  • Salmon, Paul M1
  • Walker, Guy H2
  • M Read, Gemma J1
  • Goode, Natassia1
  • Stanton, Neville A3
  • 1 a Faculty of Arts and Business, Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems , University of the Sunshine Coast , Maroochydore , Australia.
  • 2 b Institute for Infrastructure and Environment , Heriot-Watt University , Edinburgh , UK.
  • 3 c Transportation Research Group , University of Southampton , Southampton , UK.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Ergonomics
Publication Date
February 2017
Volume
60
Issue
2
Pages
194–205
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1080/00140139.2015.1103385
PMID: 26799501
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

The issues being tackled within ergonomics problem spaces are shifting. Although existing paradigms appear relevant for modern day systems, it is worth questioning whether our methods are. This paper asks whether the complexities of systems thinking, a currently ubiquitous ergonomics paradigm, are outpacing the capabilities of our methodological toolkit. This is achieved through examining the contemporary ergonomics problem space and the extent to which ergonomics methods can meet the challenges posed. Specifically, five key areas within the ergonomics paradigm of systems thinking are focused on: normal performance as a cause of accidents, accident prediction, system migration, systems concepts and ergonomics in design. The methods available for pursuing each line of inquiry are discussed, along with their ability to respond to key requirements. In doing so, a series of new methodological requirements and capabilities are identified. It is argued that further methodological development is required to provide researchers and practitioners with appropriate tools to explore both contemporary and future problems. Practitioner Summary: Ergonomics methods are the cornerstone of our discipline. This paper examines whether our current methodological toolkit is fit for purpose given the changing nature of ergonomics problems. The findings provide key research and practice requirements for methodological development.

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