Human factors and ergonomics in the industry 4.0 context

Technological development enables efficient manufacturing processes and brings changes in human work, which may cause new threats to employee well-being and challenge their existing skills and knowledge. Human factors and ergonomics (HF/E) is a scientific discipline to optimize simultaneously overall system performance and human well-being in different work contexts.

The review describes the state-of-the-art of HF/E research in Industry 4.0 manufacturing contexts. A total of 336 research articles were identified for the review, of which 37 were analysed utilizing a human-centric work system presented in the HF/E literature.

The scoping review identifies how organisations can have different levels of HF/E and technological maturities and how there are products of the organisational and operational contexts (external environment, the socio-organizational context, and the local context). An essential finding of the paper is also indications of a maturity paradox, where positive development on one variable (HF/E or technology) has a detrimental effect on the other. This is important to keep in mind and address in future manufacturing and societal developments.

Finally, the article presents a series of identified macro ergonomics viewpoints in manufacturing in Industry 4.0 context:


  • High technology sets complex demands for production and may bring along new threats to human
  • Demands for the safety and security of the technologies and work environments increases
  • Quality and usability of the user interfaces of technologies gets more complex
  • Production systems provide complex data, which in turn increases the need for more sophisticated analysis methods and skills to utilise them
  • Assistive technologies used to ease human work bring along new threats to humans
  • Demands for skills to utilise new technologies increase


Arto Reiman

Post-doctoral research fellow, University of Oulu

Elina Parviainen

Entrepreneur, Human Process Consulting Oy

Esa-Pekka Takala

Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Helsinki

Jari Kaivo-oja

Research Director FFRC, University of Turku

Theresa Lauraéus

Post-doc. Researcher, FFRC University of Turku

Reiman, A., Kaivo-oja, J., Parviainen, E., Takala, E.-P. & Lauraéus, T., 2021, Human factors and ergonomics in manufacturing in the industry 4.0 context – A scoping review. Technology in Society.


Human factors, Ergonomics, Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, Maturity models.


  • Demands for organisational skills supporting technological transformation and development activities increase
  • Personnel training systems are challenged to fit the needs and demands technological developments bring along
  • Mutual trust between the employer and the employee is threatened


  • Human tasks become more demanding and complex
  • Demands on personal cognitive and social and communication skills increase
  • Employee shortage is faced; due to e.g. aging workforce or concerning the lack of highly skilled experts

For more information on the important subject of human factors and ergonomics in Industry 4.0 contexts, please contact the article authors.