Do you consider yourself a good writer? Is your message clear, concise, comprehensive, and correct? When you write a report, does anyone review it before it is issued? How many times have you sent something out, and later had to retract it? What is the most significant consequence of an error in one of your reports? Perhaps you’ll be mildly embarrassed about “their” showing up where “they’re” should have been, although you might be able to blame “autocorrect”. For us, the consequences might involve a client spending thousands of dollars to modify equipment in an inappropriate or ineffective way.
At Taylor’d Ergo, our reports are “peer-reviewed” by another ergonomist, at no additional cost to the client. We typically spend 30-60 minutes reviewing each report, which is quite a significant investment of “non-billable” time. A typical week at Taylor’d Ergo includes a half day total of peer-reviewing. Why do we do this when our competitors don’t?
- Peer-review is not just about proof-reading, although it includes that. If a report requires substantial editing for grammar and spelling, it usually requires a second review for content.
- We believe that reports should be checked over for “quality control”; this process has helped us to identify and address inconsistencies in our assessment process. We have standard operating procedures for all of our assessment methods, which are updated for new situations as we identify better ways of doing things.
- We respect the client’s time. A client shouldn’t have to proof-read and correct a report. If one of us chooses the wrong analysis tool, or mis-reports result, we have an opportunity to correct the error before the client sees it.
- We filter for “jargon”. Within a company, acronyms and technical terms creep into our language, and while everyone inside the company may know what “bun bopping” or “FMEA” involves, a report that is intended to leave the organization needs to be “jargon-free”. We look at the report with outsider eyes to ensure that other key stakeholders in the project, who may not be familiar with the job, will be able to interpret the report. Our reports are often sent by clients to outside stakeholders, including the WSIB, health care providers, and the Ministry of Labour. We also try to minimize, or append, technical “ergo” results, to avoid confounding stakeholders with our analyses. Anyone who needs to understand how we calculated a risk index can read about it, step-by-step, in the appendix.
- More eyes lead to better solutions. The peer-reviewer has different experience, and may be able to offer alternative solutions to a problem. We brainstorm on projects in our team meetings, but peer-review is an additional opportunity for the client to benefit from our collective experience.
- We learn and grow professionally through feedback. Our best ergonomists have always been the ones who seek feedback, learn from it, and rarely make the same mistake again.
- We learn by reviewing. When we review each other’s reports, we gain experience from their projects, in addition to our own. We see new solutions, ideas, and ways of looking at projects.
So, the next time you hire professionals to do some work for you, ask them if their reports are peer-reviewed. If not, consider the implications.