Consultation and documentation on conceptual developments in software ergonomics

Project No. IFA 5127


completed 02/2015


Software is increasingly being used to implement the functionality of work equipment and the corresponding design of human-system interfaces (for example integral displays and controls in products, machinery and plant). This shifts the focus onto the requirements of human information processing during the completion of work tasks. Benefits of applying principles of software ergonomics to the design of human-system interaction include greater working efficiency and occupational safety. The series of generic standards governing the ergonomics of human-system interaction (EN ISO 9241) attempted to address this issue with a new structure and extended content.

In the Office subcommittee of the DGUV's Administration expert committee, developments such as these prompted the creation of DGUV informative publication 215-450 on software ergonomics, the content of which was also drawn from existing publications. Uniform support and orientation for all statutory accident insurance institutions was to be provided in the form of essential information on this subject. At the initiative of the subcommittee, the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) was requested to contribute content. The focus of the DGUV's informative publication on software ergonomics lay upon applications in offices and administration. The content was however to be presented such that it could also be referred to in other areas, for example during the ergonomic engineering of software used in machine design or for plant and process control.


The basis for the new document provided DGUV informative publication 215-410, a design guide for VDT and office workstations (previously BGI 650). Selected content was also drawn from the four parts of BGI 852 (concerning the utility value of software, management and software, software purchasing and functional specifications, and software setup). Relevant content concerning recent developments in the area was also obtained by means of a literature survey and from experience with the development cycle of software products. Content falling within the scope of the DGUV informative publication on software ergonomics was contributed from multiple disciplines, from the perspective of the statutory accident insurance institutions and in consideration of different use of the software. Work packages were defined based upon the structure of the DGUV informative publication, distributed within the project team of the Office subcommittee, discussed in joint meetings, and revised.


The DGUV informative publication contains information and recommendations that facilitate practical implementation of requirements concerning software ergonomics, and that provide specific sectors, tasks and target groups with concrete OSH measures suitable for implementation in practice. The IFA provided support in professional preparation of software design in accordance with ergonomic principles. The work closely followed the concept of human information processing and design principles in consideration of mental workload as formulated in international standards concerning ergonomics. OSH principles were also compiled, and evaluations of software ergonomics over products' life cycles presented. This and the remaining content of the DGUV informative publication were discussed and agreed in the project team of the Office subcommittee. The results are relevant for the area of office work and administration, and are also significant for other areas of activity. Following final editing, the DGUV informative publication on software ergonomics will be available from the Office subcommittee of the DGUV's Administration expert committee.

Last Update:

9 Jul 2015


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • VBG (Verwaltungs-Berufsgenossenschaft)
  • Sachgebiet Büro des DGUV-Fachbereichs Verwaltung

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

design of work and technology, mental stress factors, muliple exposures multiple strain


(digital) information processing, ergonomic design of software, man-machine interface

Description, key words:

software ergonomics, usability, risk assessment, mental workload, human information processing, evaluation, human factors, ergonomics, human machine interface, human system interaction, legal requirements