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In Singapore, there is a common complaint among office workers that their offices are freezing. You have probably noticed that most of the office dwellers are wearing their company issued windbreaker. Does a cold office increase or decrease production? What would be an optimal temperature for effective performance?

The interaction of man with his general environment can be pursued under the headings such as physical aspects (lighting, noise, vibration, thermal), chemical, biological and social-psychological aspects. Conditions in industries have shown that poor ventilation and temperatures which are too high or too low result in lost of efficiency, discontent and increased rate of accident and sickness.  HF experts aim to provide a satisfactory “indoor climate” for the worker by understanding the thermoregulatory system of human beings, the physiological and psychological effects of hot and cold environment, and assessing the performance of individuals working in these environments. 

As with extreme heat, noise and vibration can often be very damaging to the health of the worker, if precautions are not adopted by the management.  Noise which may be very annoying may not be loud enough to be damaging, and noise which may not irritate the person could be very dangerous. It is important to distinguish the effects and not assume that all is well just because the workers in a noisy factory seem to be contented.  However, it should also be noted that the constant noise from a printer in a very quiet office, although may not be damaging to the hearing, could affect a person’s concentration which in turn could be detrimental to his performance.



How do you ensure that an
environment is safe to work in?




SAFETY FIRST should be
the motto of all organisations.

Good lighting is not only necessary for work to be done well, but in certain environment they are absolutely crucial.  Glare from external light source falling on an essential control panel can trigger off an emergency situation.  The amount of light necessary for good work depends on the nature of the work, the sharpness of the worker’s vision and the environment in which the work is done. Besides illumination and glare, other factors to consider are flicker, shadows, and colour of light.

In considering the interaction of man with his physical environment, once again the HF experts have the job of trying to see what type of environment is necessary to suit the worker in order to maximise his performance and to ensure safety, rather than leaving it to the worker to adapt himself to unsatisfactory environment. 

Man does not work alone. He also works within a social environment. In considering human-environmental interaction, HF practitioners have to look into the social-tecnological aspects of work. Sometimes, this is referred to as 'macro-ergonomics' and include issues such as job design and satisfaction, impact of automation, change management and computer or technology supported groupwork.

Examples of topics of study:

  • Lighting: Lighting Levels, Contrast & Glare; Visual Perception, Computer Vision Syndrome, Designing for Visually Impaired, Lighting Codes
  • Thermal Environment: Heat and Cold Stress, Thermal Comfort, Protective Clothing and Equipment, Thermal Manikins and Modeling, Thermal Indices, Assessment of Thermal Environment
  • Noise: Hearing Loss, Noise Assessment, Hearing Protectors, Active Control of Noise
  • Vibration: Hand-Arm Vibration, Whole Body Vibration, Sources of Discomfort
  • Others: Chemical Hazards, Radiation Hazards
  • MacroErgonomics Theory, Analysis of Work Systems Structure and Processes
  • System Safety and Reliability Engineering
  • Human-Robotics Safety
  • Social Issues of Human and Automation

TO HFS Programme



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