Ergonomics may sound boring or difficult to grasp. But the field is so varied, most of us have been involved in some aspect of ergonomics without even knowing it. Those display screen equipment questionnaires every new employee has to complete? Ergonomics. Manual handling training? That’s ergonomics too. That horrible, fiddly website? Probably not been checked by an ergonomics consultant. Human factors training offered by many large employers also comes under ergonomics, but focuses on human-to-human communication rather than human-to-object interaction.
So, how to choose an ergonomics consultant?
The service offered by Adept Ergonomics (http://www.adeptergonomics.co.uk) covers everything from user experience of websites to posture and manual handling in industry and offices. Just about anyone looking to feel more comfortable in their working environment will have need of an ergonomics consultant. So will any business owner who cares about how their customers feel about the company and how their colleagues treat each other.
Precisely because ergonomics is such a wide area, the right consultant may vary depending on the job the client wants done. An industrial ergonomics consultant who can advise on safe manual handling in the workplace will not be the right person to ask to roadtest a new website before it goes live. The first tip is to be absolutely sure that the consultant has expertise in the right area. Many will have testimonies from previous clients, or be able to offer descriptions of the projects they have successfully completed. Their website or brochure should also offer guidance on their specialist areas. The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) are the two professional bodies for the field, and most ergonomics consultants will have membership of one or both of these, along with a degree qualification in a relevant area.
The human factors side of ergonomics is all about communication and reactions to it. The consultant should be in regular communication with the client about all aspects of the project. They should note where it’s going well, issues they have found, progress made and necessary or recommended improvements.
Sometimes the structure of the consulting firm can have an impact too. A smaller client may work better with a single freelance specialist ergonomics contractor, whereas a large organisation with more complex requirements across a greater number of locations may prefer to engage a partnership or big name consultancy. For a small firm, that large consulting partnership may seem just too nameless and faceless for their needs.
A client should be comfortable talking to the consultant. They should also be confident in their abilities. Just as with interviews, first impressions count. The number of similar projects undertaken offers an indication of whether the ergonomics consultant is experienced in the required area and able to react to the typical issues found.
A company such as Adept Ergonomics has many big-name clients in its portfolio. The breadth of expertise among the staff and the fact that the consultancy has been in business since 2006 are testimony to the professionalism and ability of the firm.