Human Factors Expert

A human factors expert has specialized knowledge about how we interact with the systems in the world around us.

The field of human factors originated during World War II to improve human performance in complex systems such as aircraft. Failures due to human error created an urgent, fresh approach. to focus on design for effective use of technology by people, particularly in challenging settings. Since the 1960s, the U.S. federal government has funded scientists, engineers, and psychologists engaged in human factors research to explore the systematic relationship between people, technology, and the environment (Lipinski, U.S. Congressional Record, Extension of Remarks, October 22, 2015).  

To a human factors expert, the terms human factors and ergonomics are synonymous, although ergonomics is the preferred term outside the United States, and ergonomics or ergonomic design is commonly used to describe products developed for the American marketplace. For example, globally, the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) is the largest membership organization of its kind. The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) is the largest in the United Kingdom. The largest in the United States is the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES). The HFES website displays a directory of educational courses and programs presently available in the human factors/ergonomics field.  

In practice, a human factors professional in the public and private sectors applies theory, methods, data, and principles about human behavior to evaluate how people interact with systems. They are trained to recognize systems poorly designed for human use. During accident investigations and forensics, the human factors expert may be asked to address the actions of a person or group in safety-critical situations, and/or to evaluate their conduct relative to that expected of a reasonably prudent person in similar circumstances. A human factors expert may be asked to evaluate the adequacy of warnings and instructions or address issues pertaining whether the risk of something hazardous on a landowner’s property was open and obvious to visitors.

Competence in the field of human factors/ergonomics is established through professional certification. The Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE) offers a single, comprehensive human factors/ergonomics certification and choice of equivalent designations (CHFP, CPE, CUXP). Candidates for certification must fulfill the education, experience, and work product requirements, pass an electronically administered examination, and submit evidence of continued education once certified.


Joe Cohen (partial list)

  • Master of Arts (MA), Psychology, Human Factors and Applied-Experimental option (2000), California State University, Northridge
  • Certified Human Factors Professional (CHFP), Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics
  • Past-President, Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (2014-2015)
  • Associate Editor, Ergonomics in Design, Sage Publications (2014-2018)

Mailing Address

Error Analysis, Inc.
5173 Waring Road, Suite 157
San Diego, CA 92120-2705


Office Location (No Mail)

Grossmont Professional Building
9001 Grossmont Boulevard, Suite 603
La Mesa, CA 91941


(Direct all inquiries and mail to the Waring Road address)