Klaus Hofer

UX and the Science of Industrial Safety!

Key Learnings

  • Describe how comprehension control techniques must be applied to industrial communications to eliminate misunderstandings.
  • Provide examples how emotional intelligence impacts decision making and how we must manage it in industrial documentation.
  • Apply five simple techniques to suppress reading grade levels to compensate for high stress and emergency situations,
  • Apply behaviour reinforcement schedules to complex procedures in order to reduce the risk of performance errors.

Every year more than 5000 Industry Workers lose their lives on the job. Causes range from falls, impacts, electrocutions or caught between objects. Countless trainings, regulations, legal advice and expert opinions are applied. However, the injury and fatalities rates keep climbing.

While UX has proven its success to marketing techniques, web and app designs, it is rarely used to enhance industrial safety. The reason is simple: It is easy to measure increased sales rates, but impossible to measure how many accidents we have prevented.

The point is: If we can measurably reduce the risk of comprehension errors, we can measurably reduce the risk of performance errors. This in turn increases safety. Science has shown us how to optimally engineer solutions to manage:

  • Cognitive overload and comprehension patterns
  • Search and navigation behaviour
  • Comprehension, response and selection patterns under stress
  • Reading Grade Levels (RGL) and foreign language interference.

Two Boeing 737 Max Aircraft crashed within 5 months of each other taking over 350 lives. In both cases the pilots struggled with the QRH (Quick Reference Handbook). MIL-STD 38784A of the US Department of Defense states that technical documents must not exceed a reading grade level (RGL) 9. The Boeing Quick Reference handbook however scored an unacceptable RGL 15. With a volume of 882 pages and over 171479 Words, it is fair to make the claim that the Quick Reference Handbook set the pilots up for failure.

The science is available. Let’s use it to save lives. 

Date: Thursday, October 17th
Time: 11:30 - 12:15
Location: Hall 2


Klaus Hofer

Founder and CEO, CAT-i

A corporate psychologist by training, Klaus’s passion for Usability Mapping was triggered by a serious incident that endangered the life of an unsuspecting hospital patient. In search of the cause, he found only opinions, judgmental answers and countless rules. This led him to the question: “How can well trained, focused and dedicated professionals make mistakes that could kill someone?”

The question in turn led him to a lifetime of research, development and now promoting the scientific principles that underpin the development of safer, more usable documentation. He founded CAT-i in 2003 and has personally trained over 4,000 professionals in 38 organizations world-wide.

Born in Austria, Klaus is Canadian Citizen, lives in Canada and spends his spare time on his second passion – music.

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