Vredenburgh & Zackowitz, Inc.

Human Factors, Ergonomics, Safety,
Engineering & Organizational Consulting


Children, Schools, and Playgrounds


Whetsel Borzendowski, S., Vredenburgh, M., Darlson, C., Hersh, M., Vredenburgh, A., & Zackowitz, I. (2019). Children’s safety workshop: A demonstration of human factors professionals’ preparation with practicing attorneys. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2019 Annual Meeting, Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 227.

This special joint session with shared interest from multiple technical groups (Forensics professional, Children’s issues, and Safety) presents an interactive demonstration of human factors preparation with “client” attorneys. Actual attorneys, exhibits and experts from a matter that took place in South Florida will work with the audience to “prepare” the case and give example cross-examination testimony. The attorneys and experts will then form a panel to respond to audience questions.

Vredenburgh, A.G., Zackowitz, I.B. & Vredenburgh, A.N. (2019). Colorful Rounded-Tip Scissors: Too sharp for children. M.S. Wogalter (Ed.), In Forensic Human Factors & Ergonomics: Case Studies and Analyses, (pp. 123-134). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group.

Zackowitz, I.B., Kalsher, M.J., Pollack-Nelson, C., Vredenburgh, A. & Miller, J.M. (2017). Adult products that kill and injure children. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2017 Annual Meeting, Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 886-889.

Many of the most dangerous products killing and injuring children are not toys – they are adult products. Of the 150,000 products regulated by the CPSC, ATVs are responsible for more child deaths annually than any other. In many cases, the children injured or killed were riding adult ATVs. Products inside the home are also responsible for deaths and serious injuries. Dressers and televisions tip over and kill children at a rate of one every two weeks. Window covering cords have strangled at least one child every month for decades. And button batteries found in everything from remote control devices to bathroom scales are ingested by infants and young children, causing serious injuries and death. Finally, cell phone use by children has opened up a wide range of serious risks - not only driving and pedestrian accidents, but also risks associated with exposure to strangers and unsafe products. In this alternative format panel, experts address each of these products and explore how risk perception – by parents and children – affects their behavior and exposure to the hazard. Limitations of voluntary and mandatory regulations to mitigate product hazards are also discussed.

Rice, J.B.R., Brickman, D., Lueder, R., Smith-Jackson, T., Vredenburgh, A. & Zackowitz, I. (2015). “Conflicting design considerations for children and people with disabilities.” In Designing for Children: What Do Human Factors Professional Need to Know? Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 59th Annual Meeting, Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 59:413-415.

Human Factors and Ergonomics (HF/E) research, projects, expert witness cases, and product designs that target children and their caretakers require a unique set of knowledge and skills. Panelists will describe some of their professional child-focused practices and explain how their education and experiential backgrounds prepared them for this work. In cases where traditional HF/E training was not sufficient, panelists will describe how they met this challenge. The discussion between panelists and attendees will focus on suggestions for preparing HF/E professionals for working with this target market.

Zackowitz, I.B., & Vredenburgh, A.G. (2013). A Forensic Human Factors Analysis of a Playground Designated for Special Needs Children. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 57th Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Vol. 57, 585-589.

Human factors research has long addressed the issue of hazard management and the adequacy and effectiveness of product design and labeling. One issue that most professionals in the field would likely agree on is that manufacturers typically have the most information about hazards associated with their products and that they are in the best position to pass that information along to consumers. This case study regards a manufacturer who chose to provide multiple and conflicting labels when supplying product information to customers. The manufacturer failed to apply the appropriate label to its product and left that task to the consumer. A human factors analysis evaluated the design, labeling and relevant standards of care for playgrounds.

Vredenburgh, A.G., & Zackowitz, I.B. (2007). Playground: Safety and ergonomics. In R. Lueder & V. Rice (Eds.), Ergonomics for Children. (pp. 907-925). London: Taylor & Francis.

Playgrounds enable children to develop physical and social skills in a fun and stimulating environment.  This environment provides young children with “work” activities that help them develop life skills such as coordination, figure ground (dimensions) and eye-hand coordination.  During this skill-development phase, playground accidents and resulting injuries are possible. User-environment fit is important for children as well as adults and is critical in the playground environment.  Children need challenge, with minimal potential for injury.  Improper playground design can contribute to injuries.   This chapter focuses on safety issues that will help reduce children’s exposure to danger while they are using playgrounds. Specifically, this chapter reviews common playground hazards, child user requirements and design guidelines.

Vredenburgh, A.G., Vredenburgh, M.J., & Kalsher, M.J. (2006). Adolescent risk perception and self-protective behavior regarding airsoft and paintball Guns. IEA2006: 16th World Congress on Ergonomics. Elsevier Ltd.

Airsoft and paintball markers (paintball guns) are marketed as toy replicas of real firearms and have become popular worldwide. A survey created for this study consists of 26 items that requested information on demographics, experience using toy guns and perceptions of the dangers of the toy guns. Of the participants 45% had not used an airsoft gun and 55% had. 43% had used a paintball gun and 57% had experienced paintball. 60% had used a BB gun and 40% have not used a BB gun. Of the 40 participants that have used an airsoft, during target practice 41% did not ever wear eye protection. However when they played airsoft with other people 15% still did not ever wear eye protection.

Zackowitz, I.B, & Vredenburgh, A.G. (2005). Preschoolers, adolescents and seniors: Age-related factors that pertain to forensic human factors analyses. In Y.I. Noy & W. Karwowski (Eds.), Handbook of Human Factors in Litigation. Chapter 35. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 35-1 – 35-11.

In this chapter we will discuss the age-related issues one may consider when investigating accidents that occur among preschoolers, adolescents and older individuals. The objective is to illustrate how factors beyond the basic facts of a case can be evaluated before a thorough analysis is complete. Research in psychology provides us with insight into developmental issues for many age groups. Combining forensic human factors and psychology will provide useful age-related guidelines for consultants to consider when investigating accidents. To demonstrate the evaluation of age-related human factors, six cases that we have investigated as forensic consultants will be discussed. Two cases for pre-school aged children will be presented: a pedestrian versus vehicle accident and a playground accident. Two cases illustrate adolescent issues: a child in traffic and a fall from height. Two cases concern older adults: a trip and fall accident and a driving accident. While specific cases are used as examples, this information will be useful to many practitioners in human factors forensic consulting as it can be applied to many different accident scenarios.

Vredenburgh, A.G., & Zackowitz, I.B. (2002). Playground Safety: A forensic human factors analysis of fall injuries. In Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 95-96.

Zackowitz, I.B, & Vredenburgh, A.G. (1998). Preschoolers: A forensic human factors analysis. (Summary) In Proceedings of the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, San Francisco, CA., 90-91.