A study of the effects of spatial contiguity and hierarchically structured headings in a shipboard operating and maintenance manual

The notion of operating and maintenance manuals being validated as fit for purpose is based largely on conjecture, as causal factors contributing to rule-based (procedure-based) human error at sea are under-theorised and under-researched. Human factors theories offer little in terms of framework as to the constitution of a bad rule. In this study, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) operating and maintenance manual was assessed against two rule-based error-provoking markers identified through literature review. The contribution of the original and subsequently modified OEM operating and maintenance manuals towards both behaviour modification and rule-based error was assessed through a workshop-based study. Randomly selected seafaring participants were tasked with the responsibility of executing a typical shipboard operational procedure by referring to an original or modified version of the manual. The study supported the following hypotheses: (1) the hierarchical access structure of headings in an operating and maintenance manual supports the primary function of selection, and (2) the efficacy of inference in a procedure-based task is dependent upon the spatial contiguity of corresponding text and illustrations in an operating and maintenance manual. The findings of this study suggest that a nexus exists between the structure of operating and maintenance manuals, behaviour modification and human error. Furthermore, this study demonstrates a need for further research into specific causal factors contributing towards rule-based error in shipboard operating and maintenance tasks.


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01606603
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 16 2016 9:25AM