What are ‘job factors’ and how do they affect health and safety?

Job Factors

In the previous article, we examined how organisational factors impact health and safety. Now, let’s shift our focus to job factors.

To manage human factors and control risk successfully, we need to develop systems that properly consider human capabilities and fallibilities. Techniques like job safety analysis help design jobs according to ergonomic principles, accommodating variations in human performance. Examples of job factors include:


Ergonomics ensures a good fit between people and the things they use. People vary in height, weight, physical strength, and ability to handle information. Designing tasks in line with ergonomic principles considers both limitations and strengths in human performance. Matching the job to the person prevents overload, enabling effective contributions to business results. Mismatches create potential for human error, whether physical or mental, involving the whole workplace and working environment.

Ergonomic design aims to produce equipment that people can operate comfortably and safely, reducing human error, accidents, and ill health. Common ergonomic problems identified during accident investigations include operators unable to see displays, reach controls, work comfortably, or pay attention due to information overload.


Repetitive or fast-paced tasks can lead to concentration lapses. Risky jobs may divert attention from less dangerous aspects. Assigning unsuitable tasks based on individual factors can also cause issues.


Both work overload and underload can cause stress. Working inconvenient and excessive hours adds to the strain.


Jobs in poor physical conditions, such as high noise levels or poor ventilation, pose risks.

Display and Controls

The layout of controls and displays influences system safety. Issues may arise from inadvertently activated switches, confusing control panel layouts, displays requiring awkward positions, critical displays outside the operator’s normal view, poorly identified controls, and hard-to-reach emergency stop buttons.


Clear operating and maintenance procedures are crucial for accident and ill-health prevention. Well-written procedures maintain consistency and ensure everyone has the same information. They are key to a safety management system and serve as vital training tools. However, poor procedures may lead to non-compliance.