I’ve been trying to make it easier for people to find us online, and in the process, considering how our customers find us, exactly. Most of our work comes from repeat clients, or word-of-mouth from satisfied clients, but the new clients typically find us with a web search. I imagine that you’re using search terms such as:
- Ergonomics consultant
- MSD prevention
- Strain/sprain prevention
You might also use the term “Ergonomic Consultant”, although technically, that’s not what we are. (And if you see someone who calls themselves an “ergonomic” consultant, you should ask, in what way are they “ergonomic”. For more discussion about the difference between “ergonomic” and “ergonomics”, please see this blog, or this article on our professional association’s website. I digress…If you have used other terms in your search for an ergonomics consultant, please let me know!
In your search for an ergonomist, you might narrow your scope geographically by adding a province or city. You’d find us with “Ontario” and “Cambridge, Mississauga, London, Stratford, Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener, Toronto, Woodstock, St. Thomas” and any of the other municipalities that I thought to add to our website.
You might also go to the professional association for Canadian ergonomists, and use the directory of consultants.
After you’ve searched online for some potential candidates, you’ll compare their qualifications. In Canada, ergonomics certification is regulated by the College for Canadian Certification of Professional Ergonomists. From the CCCPE website:
“Law in Canada has not restricted the term Ergonomist such that anyone, regardless of knowledge and competency, can refer to themselves as an “Ergonomist”. In order to protect employers and the public, a voluntary professional certification program is available through the Canadian College for the Certification of Canadian Ergonomists (CCCPE). Certification through the CCCPE provides the designation “CCPE” (Certified Canadian Professional Ergonomist), and has been available since 1989. The Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist (CCPE) designation is the only ergonomics/human factors certification in Canada, which requires applicants to meet a consistent set of standards in education and professional competencies across the full scope of ergonomics and human factors.”
Look for the initials “CCPE” (Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist), or “AE” (Associate Ergonomist). Many ergonomists (including Carrie) are also Registered Kinesiologists, but not all kinesiologists are educated and trained to work as ergonomists. We believe that all of our ergonomists meet the educational requirements for certification. Two of our ergonomists are CCPEs; one is an AE, and three have submitted their AE applications and await the review by the board.
Once you’ve found some consultants who are qualified and geographically available, you’re likely going to contact a few candidates and start asking questions. Here are some questions we encourage you to ask (and our answers):
How much experience does the ergonomist have? If the ergonomist is relatively new, is a mentor available, and is that mentor certified through the CCCPE? How closely supervised is the new ergonomist?
Our ergonomists’ experience ranges from less than a year, to over 30 years of full time ergonomics work. Our Associate Ergonomists (and those awaiting certification) are trained by our CCPEs, and ALL projects are peer-reviewed by a second ergonomist. We also meet as a team bi-weekly to share our experiences and trouble-shoot challenging projects.
Did the ergonomist offer to use a survey to gather quantitative (i.e. scored) discomfort information? Does the survey include space for employees to describe concerns and ideas?
We value the worker’s input; our surveys, which are used for office and industrial risk assessments, ask employees to rate the frequency and severity of discomfort, and these ratings are converted into a score, which makes a very useful baseline value. The survey also asks the employee for concerns and ideas.
How much time will the ergonomist be spending with the employees? Will the ergonomist see everything that the employee does? If a task only happens occasionally, how will the ergonomist assess it?
About one third of our project time is spent with the employees, collecting key job data. We prefer to do our analysis and report writing on-site. Therefore, we can also work on our reports while we wait for a specific task to occur, and we are available for questions.
Will the report include quantitative, objective data? Are push, pull, and grip forces measured? Will the ergonomist measure workstation parameters?
We are very particular about our measurements. We use calibrated gauges, and accepted force measurement and force matching techniques. We measure heights and reaches for each task, and collect production data to verify task frequencies and durations (i.e. we don’t rely on employee estimates).
Will the issues be prioritized? Will the report include “nice-to-do” and “need-to-do” recommendations?
Our ergonomics reports include an assessment of risk, allowing you to identify which tasks present a high risk and should be changed. Even our office assessments report priority as high, moderate, or low, based on exposure to hazards, and reported discomfort.
How are recommendations developed during an ergonomics assessment? Does the client have any input?
For an industrial project, we meet with you and the key project stakeholders after the analysis is completed, to review results and discuss appropriate next steps. We can investigate alternative solutions, to work within your budgetary constraints. For office projects, we use your office supplier for product suggestions where possible, and we meet with the supervisor or manager to discuss any high-cost recommendations.
How soon after the ergonomist comes onsite can you expect to receive the report?
Our draft reports are issued to you on the last scheduled day of the project. You should never have to wait for weeks for a report. Office ergo reports are usually issued for your review on the day of the assessment.
Does the company offer discounts for larger projects?
Clients who book more than 12 days in a calendar year are entitled to discounted rates. In addition, we are happy to provide free ergo awareness materials (bulletins, ergo thoughts, contests), to clients who sign-up for our “On-site Ergo” Services (contact Carrie at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details). And if you’d like information about any of our services, please don’t hesitate to ask!
Once you’ve found an ergonomist, you’ll have a conversation about the project at hand. What is the question you’d like to answer? The more clearly you (and the ergonomist) can describe the question, the easier the project will be!