goal to help industry make safer consumer products, this document
is of interest if your company is involved in the design and
manufacture of consumer products sold in Canada and the U.S.
The document provides recommendations to improve the utility
and reduce the hazards related to the use of consumer products.
By taking special consideration for the user throughout the stages
of product development, it is possible to prevent product-related
injuries and establish safe and effective use outcomes.
The draft guidance discusses the human factors discipline as an
approach toward understanding how humans interact with other
elements of a system. The human factors design principles suggest
that development of products should be undertaken with the user
in mind. Products can be made safer by considering under what
conditions the user will interact with a product. There are four key
human factors considerations when developing a new product: (1)
the environment in which the product is used, (2) the product user,
(3) the user interface or product design, and (4) the tasks to be accomplished
by the user. By carefully considering human attributes,
abilities and limitations in the context of these factors during product
development, a safe and effective use outcome may be achieved.
The draft guidance asserts that considering human factors
from the early stages of product development is beneficial not
only from a safety and usability perspective, but also from a cost
perspective. Identifying critical human performance aspects during
the early stages of product design will decrease long-term costs
by reducing the need for expensive changes in design later in the
process. Additionally, careful consideration of product usability
will result in reduced support and help desk costs when the users
find the product to be effective and easy to learn.
As in all aspects of life, when developing a new product we
should expect the unexpected. It’s obvious to consider the target
user and intended use of a product. However, it is also essential
to consider those users and uses that fall outside the scope of
what is typical. Product testing should be comprehensive, adequately
sensitive and generalized to real-world use by consumers.
Test participants should represent the wide range of characteristics
that end-users may possess. In this sense, it is important
to account for diversity of ability and experience among users,
including unintended users of the product. It is also imperative
to account for vulnerable users, such as children, that may not
fully understand the risks of the product.
The draft guidance additionally recommends applying human
factors principles to the packaging and labeling of the
product, including instructions and other information. Instructions
should allow the user to avoid harm caused by a product
hazard that has not been eliminated. Technical documentation
should be thorough, technically accurate, at an appropriate
reading level and at a level of technical sophistication. All foreseeable
hazards associated with use of the product should also
The draft guidance outlines the stages of the product design
process and details human factors activities that can be performed
during each phase. The comment period for the draft document
ended on May 14, 2018. We will be sure to provide an update
once the official guidance document is published. Spray
1Email email@example.com for a copy of the Guidance on the Application
of Human Factors to Consumer Products draft.
June 2018 Spray 25