Control room design has a major impact on operator performance, productivity, and plant safety.

Government and industry standards surveys from around the world tell us that many of today's control rooms and command centers could benefit from improved design for both operators and facility processes.

When considering workstation layout, controls equipment, and operator displays in a control room design configuration or upgrade, several human factors should be recognized. Provided below is a reference list of such factors:


Human Factors Checklist for Selection of Ergonomic Workstations and Control Room Design


  1. Where will the DCS equipment, computers, gauges, meters, and other control devices be located? Will the operators need to have frequent access to or visibility of this equipment?
  2. How many monitors will the operators be responsible for viewing, and which are the most important?  Key displays should always reside on the desktops, or first tier of a multi-tier workstation. Secondary displays can be mounted on second or third tiers. When differences exist in operator height and vision, dual extension monitor arms may be utilized.
  3. What monitor screen sizes are required for your project? What font size and control diagram size will be used on the operator displays? These factors will also play a role in determining where the monitors should be located: first, second, or third tiers.
  4. What type and frequency of interaction will each operator need to have with other operators? This should be considered when designing operator positions along a series of workstations, and may determine whether separate workstations or adjoined workstations are required.
  5. Is there an aisle or walkway behind the operators' screens? If so, privacy panels may be added to the rear of a monitor tier to minimize operator distraction and provide a clean look to the rear of the workstation.
  6. What kind and frequency of interaction will operators need to have with production personnel?  If interactions will be frequent, matching worktables could be located immediately behind the operators' workstations, or equipment riser shelves with monitor supports and reversed tops may be used.
  7. During a typical shift, for how many hours will the operators be seated at their control consoles?  Selection of both ergonomic seating and type of workstation configuration are key: seated, stool height, standing, or variable height workstations may be considered.
  8. What type of task lighting (if any) is needed at each workstation?
    For nighttime operations, LED task lighting or ambient lighting may be required.
  9. Will CPUs or other controls equipment be housed inside the workstations?
    If so, what heat load will the equipment require? Will additional ventilation be needed? If so, what will be the noise level generated by this equipment? Excessive temperature or noise should not interfere with operator productivity.


Additional Resources:

Health and Safety Executive


Industry Standards

ISO 11064, Parts 1-7

Covers design principles, control room arrangements and layout, workstations, displays, controls, interactions, temperature, lighting, acoustics, ventilation, and more. 


European Agency for Safety and Health at Work


Handbook of Control Room Design and Ergonomics: A Perspective for the Future, Second Edition



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