Vredenburgh & Associates, Inc.

Human Factors, Ergonomics, Safety,
Organizational & Biomechanics Consulting


Children, Schools, and Playgrounds


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.