Our Work

Litigation & Claims

We are often asked to examine evidence involving falls (slips underfoot due loss of traction, trips, missteps), collisions, crashes, explosions, environmental exposures, and other events involving human users or operators. Analysis of such issues typically includes research about the capabilities and limitations of people, analysis of human-system interfaces, and application of human factors and safety principles. In some cases, we deconstruct human performance in context, perform reenactments and selected aspects of accident reconstruction, produce trial exhibits, and appear to present our findings and conclusions.  

Our work has involved:

  • Airports
  • Amusement parks
  • Apartment/condominium complexes
  • Banks
  • Construction sites
  • Convenience stores
  • Convention halls
  • Exercise facilities/gymnasiums
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Hospitals/medical centers
  • Hotels and casinos
  • Museums
  • Night clubs
  • Office buildings
  • Places of worship (e.g., churches)
  • Residences
  • Restaurants
  • Shopping centers and malls
  • Special events (i.e., temporary facilities)
  • Theaters
  • Universities/colleges
  • Warehouse stores
  • Workplaces
  • Audio/visual equipment
  • Bicycles and components
  • Buckets
  • Chairs/stools
  • Child seats
  • Cleaning products
  • Conveyors
  • Cranes
  • Elevators
  • Escalators
  • Fire-fighting equipment
  • Floor buffers
  • Food supplements
  • Furniture
  • Industrial/consumer chemical labeling
  • Ice resurfacing equipment
  • Ladders
  • Medical devices
  • Motorcycles
  • Multi-meters
  • Paints and solvents
  • Person lifts
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Snowmobiles
  • Stairways
  • Warehouse equipment
  • Wheelchairs

Special Projects

Human Factors Design Standard (HFDS)

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Under sub-contract, Error Analysis, Inc. conducted a critical review of the material contained in the existing edition of the FAA’s Human Factors Design Standard (HFDS) on workplace layout and design of passageways. The HFDS is a reference tool for consideration by FAA system and facilities designers, testers, procurement specialists, and contractors in carrying out human factors policy. Error Analysis assessed the currency of the materials in the 2003 HFDS and its relevance to FAA systems, equipment, and facilities at the time of publication. Our consultants produced drafts of the updated material in the HFDS, including the requested addition of design criteria for persons in wheelchairs set forth by Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), the Americans with Disability Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), and Military (MIL) standards. Human-centered design criteria specified by the HFDS within the scope of work of this project included:

  • Equipment and workstation layout
  • Workspace features designed into equipment
  • Passageways and corridors
  • Walkway and floor surfaces
  • Catwalks, tunnels, and crawl spaces
  • Platforms, elevators, and inclinators
  • Entrances and exits
  • Ramps, ladders, and stairs

Ahlstrom, V. (2016). Human Factors Design Standard (DOT/FAA/HF-STD-001B). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.

30C (6) Corporate Witness

Products liability suit

Parents in litigation sued a helmet manufacturer, designer, retailer, and others after a teenage boy died while practicing for a downhill mountain bike race. Attorneys representing a defendant company involved with the helmet in the stream of commerce retained an Error Analysis consultant for its legal defense. As the company had been sold and dissolved, and to avoid seeking out numerous people from the non-existent entity to testify for one a few topics each, the court allowed the defendant to retain one individual to testify as a 30B (6) corporate witness on behalf of their client. Our consultant at length studied the defendant organization and product at issue before testifying under oath in deposition about the corporate history and structure, the helmet at issue’s intended use and design, testing standards for safety, manuals, warnings, and all prior incidents involving the helmet line reported to the company. Our work reached a conclusion that the full-face helmet worn at the time of the incident was designed and manufactured to comply with the safety standards for the jurisdiction to which the helmet was sold, including applicable Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and ASTM International standards. The helmet was in good condition and fit well at the time of the incident. Error Analysis reviewed eyewitness accounts and crash reconstruction evidence that the bicycle speed, combined with an overshot of the jump and the boy losing control, caused him to land between two jumps. Unfortunately, the landing compressed the bicycle’s suspension and forced him onto the frame causing fatal injuries to his face and head. The matter was resolved prior to trial.      

Understanding and Evaluating Eyewitness Testimony

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual International Meeting

To provide guidance for forensic practitioners who reconstruct events based on information from eyewitness testimony, Joseph Cohen with colleagues Jeffrey Martin (San Carlos, CA) and Angela Stokes (Sioux City, IA) led an interactive session at the 62nd Human Factors and Ergonomics Society International Annual Meeting during a session by the organization’s Forensic Technical Group. The session included a review of scientific literature about the fallibility of eyewitness testimony, why it occurs, and how to understand and evaluate it during a forensic investigation. The presenters showed video-based and live-action scenarios in which eyewitness memory dynamics were discussed and demonstrated. The session included tips and techniques for field investigators for dealing with eyewitness testimony. Also discussed for the forensic practitioner were evidence-based strategies for use in evaluating and weighing its accuracy and completeness.

Martin, J. A., Cohen, J., & Stokes, A. (2018). Understanding and evaluating eyewitness recall of events. 62nd Annual International Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Philadelphia, PA.