The guidance was developed based on literature reviews and stakeholder interviews, utilising guidance, good practice and knowledge from other high hazard industries and healthcare.

The research, conducted to develop the guide, identified several key themes that are subsequently addressed within the guide.

The guide draws on good practices from other high hazard industries, to highlight the benefits that incorporating Human Factors in design can bring for healthcare, and to provide methods and techniques to ensure Human Factors is considered throughout the design process. This paper introduces the guidance, detailing the rational and method for developing the guidance and the key findings from the research.


The incorporation of Human Factors in design revolves around examining user needs, by considering user activities, capabilities, limitations and experience to determine how facilities can be designed to support end users and reduce potential safety related issues associated with facility design.

It is recognised that the healthcare sector has made successful improvements in the integration of Human Factors in design, yet the CMO report (2006) suggests healthcare can learn further lessons from other safety critical industries. Preliminary healthcare research (Vincent et al, 2001) found that 10% of acute inpatients suffer a safety incident with up to 8% of these resulting in the patient’s death. Moreover 48% of these safety incidents were considered avoidable, stemming in part from human errors in the delivery of care. Although delivery of care can be improved in a number of ways, the incorporation of Human Factors into facility design can offer significant safety benefits.

In response to the CMO (2006) report and the positive impact Human Factors in design can bring, the NPSA recognised the opportunity to learn more from other safety critical industries in terms of incorporating Human Factors into healthcare facility design. The NPSA commissioned research to develop guidance that draws together knowledge, techniques and design methods from safety critical industries to enhance healthcare facility design. This paper details the method undertaken for developing the guidance, key findings and how the guidance addresses these findings.

The full report can be found here.