Imagine a form that tradespeople use to manage safety on worksites. The form helps the worker identify potential safety hazards and suggests techniques for minimising risk. It also guides the worker on safety measures that are mandatory in some cases (e.g. regular inspection of the site).

With a highly usable design (e.g. typeface that is large enough for the majority of the population to read), the form takes up one side of one A3 piece of paper. Two supplementary forms, which are only needed some of the time, take up another A4 piece of paper each.

In a pilot, workers complained that the A3 page was too large to carry with them on site (which they need to do). They also find it hard to manage all the different pieces of paper. They would rather have one single piece of A4 paper.

The managers, however, feel that all the information on the A3 and two A4 pages is necessary, so none of the content can be removed.

So we have a conflict between the content that's needed and the space it takes up.

Moreover, for legal reasons, there needs to be a carbon copy of the main form, so, it can't be printed on both sides of the paper.

The goal would be

  • a form whose physical size was portable
  • all the content that's needed to properly manage safety and meet legal obligations
  • carbon copy of the main form
  • all forms to be usable

I have an idea how to achieve all these (somewhat competing) requirements, but I'd really like to hear other people's ideas. This is a tough one! Note that going electronic is not an option for the near future.

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    My first thought was to have an A3 sheet folded to make a 2 page A4 booklet but this might not be possible to carbon copy. May 7, 2014 at 12:55

1 Answer 1


You have a problem in your hands, and although there could be many possible solutions, in my opinion, there is only one that would really work.

Reorganize the information/questions so they can be fitted on A4 pages. We can not tell you how to redesign the form because we do not know the contents, but what we know is that the people who has to fill the form are not happy with it, so they are going to use it less, quicker and paying less attention, not to mention that they may be less careful which may end up on damaged papers, unreadable answers, etc.

For the carbon copy, there is no problem with that, there are a few options that don't involve an actual carbon sheet but paper with transferring capabilities, like incorporated carbon on black or blue colour.

For organizing the information, as mentioned, that depends on you to solve.

For making them usable, again, that depends on you. You already mentioned the size of the font, if you organize the information in a similar way as the operators have to fill it, that would make the form easier for the, Finally, provide training, so they are confident. Documentation to learn before using it also will help. Obviously, make the questions as easily understandable as possible, write the questions considering input from the actual people who have to use them. Grammatical Correctness and proper technical words shouldn't collide, they have to complement each other to make unambiguous questions.

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