human workloads

Novell's intelligent workload management

The video below briefly identify and explains why managing human workload is important within organizations.

(Video embedded from YouTube on 01 October 2010)

Human workload in aviation

The importance of human workload can be measured by the following sectors:


Safety seems to be the most important issue within the aviation industry, especially for commercial aviation (such as airliners), that safety records is crucial.
Human error is also considered as an important factor to some aircraft accidents. Human factors research has amply demonstrated that workload is an important
determinant, although not the only relevant factor, in causing human error (Kantowitz & Sorkin, 1983, chapters 2, 6, & 19). The moderate levels of workload can
affect the reliability of human performances, on the other hand, sudden changes, extremes of workload, and some unpredictable variables may increase human
error. The ability of human cope with information can be limited by the high workload, thus rise the rates of error imposed within the environment, for example,
federal and corporate regulations aimed to prevent pilot error but also increase the workload by the environmental complexity. The human also can be bored
when the workload is too low, thus leading error by not attend properly to the environment. Modern technologies in the cockpit, such as flight-deck automation
and heads-up displays reduce the workload of pilots but also enough to cause boredom.
(image embedded from Dynamicflight on 01 October 2010)

Crew size

nowadays, the size of crew usually involves two pilots without flight engineers when flying a wide body jet aircraft. The argument is that the current crew’s
workload are excessive by the reduction of the size from three to two. According to Wiener (1985), the workload does not reduce by one third when adding
the third crew, indeed the human error may increased by the factor of communication or crew size under loaded.


the concept of automation provides both potentials of increase and decrease of workload. Designers tend to reduce the workload by allow crews to allocated
automatic devices when performing tasks. However, crew’s workload may also increased by taking the responsibility to monitoring operations by the automatic

Physical versus mental workload

The traditional measurement of physical workload is by kilocalories and oxygen consumptions. However, this concept is becoming less and less relevant in aviation
environment. Although there still a possibility of pilot fatigue especially when mechanical system fails in an emergency, but hydraulic systems and other system have
been allocated the function of exerting large forces that human operators used to take responsibilities. The mental workload is not an easy concept to measure and
defined, and scientists still trying to create techniques to measure.


Kantowitz, G, B & Casper, A, P. (2009). Human workload in aviation. In Dismukes, K, R. (Eds) Human error in aviation. England: Ashgate. 123-153

Wants to know more?

Methods for workload measurement:

Subjective ratings:

Cooper-Harper scales:

Subjective Workload Assessment Technique (SWAR) ratings:

Biocybernetic measures:

Contributors to this page

Authors / Editors

Chu LuanChu Luan

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