For most of the nearly 30 years that I practiced law involvingclaims of personal injury (representing both plaintiffs anddefendants), a claim of injury due to a “slip and fall” usuallyfocused on one of two questions with regard to liability:

  1. When a foreign substance or object was the alleged cause, didthe premises owner have sufficient notice of the hazard to requireremoval of or warning of the presence of the hazard; or
  2. Was there a violation of a building code or other regulationwith regard to the premises that the owner failed to remedy whichwas the proximate cause of the fall?

Arriving at an answer to either of those questions normally wasan issue of fact that rarely needed the testimony of one with anysort of scientific expertise.

Times have changed. These days, the parties to a slip and fallcase turn to experts in the field that is referred to as HumanFactors Engineering or simply Human Factors. Many attorneys knowthat an expert in Human Factors can be employed to prove either aclaim or defense in a premises liability case, but they may notknow what scientific field qualifies someone to offer soundopinions in this scientific discipline. If an attorney in apremises liability case wants to find an expert to prove that thesubject premises either was or was not safe, using scientificexpertise as the grounds for their opinions, they must know whereto look for such an expert witness.

Human Factors Engineering is a synonym for Ergonomics, andErgonomics is a sub-specialty of Industrial Engineering. In Augustof 2000, the International Ergonomics Association adopted thefollowing definition:

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