What is an Ergonomist?
An Ergonomist is an occupational health expert who specialises in designing comfortable and efficient tools, equipment, and furniture for offices and factories. This professional considers human anatomy and the safety of workers to craft items that minimise physical strain. The process of creating or organising workplaces, goods, and systems such that they suit the people who use them is known as Ergonomics.
Most people have heard of Ergonomics and believe it is related to seats or the design of automotive controls and gauges, which it is, but it’s so much more than that. Ergonomics is used in the design of everything that affects people, including workplaces, sports and recreation, and health and safety.
Ergonomists, who are also called human factors engineers, work with engineers to make sure that machines, tools, and other equipment can be used easily and correctly. Ergonomists are needed more than ever to make business and home computer stations easier to use because more people are using computers. They have to think about things like how hard it is to understand how a machine works and how uncomfortable it is to use. If these things aren’t taken care of, they could cause eye problems, tiredness, pain, and even serious long-term illnesses. Ergonomists are also used in many other fields, where they work with everything from office chairs to monitors in military aircraft.
Some of the responsibilities that you may have as an Ergonomist may include:
- Conducting workplace risk assessments
- Investigating the human body’s physical and psychological capabilities and limitations
- Creating user guides to enable proper usage of new systems or goods
- Producing findings and suggestions reports
- Assessing work environments and their impact on users
- Creating ideas and statistical data
- Studying how people use and interact with equipment and machinery
- Designing practical solutions to implement improvements
- Consulting with employees at all levels of an organisation to do research
- Using assessment results to identify areas for improvement
- Visiting a variety of places, such as offices, factories, hospitals, and oil rigs, to review health and safety standards or to investigate workplace incidents
- Project management
- Presenting work at conferences, professional groups or clients
- Identifying new clients
- Developing a firm grasp of how various industries and their processes operate
- Applying extensive understanding of the human body to enhance the design of things such as automobiles, office furniture, and recreational facilities
- Advising, informing, and training colleagues and clients
- Interviewing and observing persons in a certain sort of setting as part of the study process
- Acting as an expert witness on human factors in situations of industrial injury,
The salary for Ergonomists is primarily influenced by experience, sector and location.
The UK national average salary for an Ergonomist is £38.933, ranging from £26,000 to £58.000 per year. The average London based salary for an Ergonomist is £37,823, ranging from £25,000 to £57.000 per year. The average additional cash compensation amounts to £2,518, with a range from £540 to £11,738.
Your working hours as an Ergonomist are determined by the industry you work in and the specific project. Monday through Friday office hours are possible, however certain positions may demand evening, weekend, or shift work. Several businesses allow for flexible and hybrid work arrangements.
Ergonomists operate in well-lit, pleasant offices and studios. When work spaces or pieces of equipment need to be modified, Ergonomists may be required to travel to various sites. Most Ergonomists work in the research and development departments of manufacturing plants or for private consulting firms. However, some qualified, business-savvy professionals offer their services on a freelance or contract basis.
Companies that manufacture office furniture and equipment employ Ergonomists to find ways to make things safer and more comfortable.
Some Ergonomists work full-time for big industrial corporations like automakers and computer companies. Others serve as consultants for businesses, institutions, and government organisations. Ergonomists work for a variety of governmental and commercial sector organisations, including:
- Manufacturing firms
- Automotive firms
- Information technology consultancies
- Nuclear corporations
- Transportation corporations, such as rail and aviation
- UK and international research institutes
- Universities and research organisations
- Consumer and safety laboratories
- Government agencies and independent regulators
- Utility firms, such as oil and gas
- Defence and process firms
The Ergonomist’s task is to investigate all elements of the working environment and match the job to the human’s characteristics. Ergonomists use information about individuals, such as their size (height, weight, etc.), capacity to manage information and make judgements, ability to see and hear, and ability to operate in high temperatures.
An Ergonomist studies the way that these things vary in a group of people. With this knowledge, the Ergonomist, in collaboration with designers and engineers, guarantees that a product or service can be utilised comfortably, efficiently, and safely, This must be true not only for ‘typical’ individuals, but also for the entire range of persons who use the product, possibly including youngsters, the elderly, and the disabled. An Ergonomist may also evaluate current goods and services, pointing out where they fail to ‘fit’ the user (in every meaning of the word) and offering ways to enhance this fit.
An Ergonomist typically collaborates with an engineering team to develop computers, office supplies, desks, seats, machinery, and industrial equipment. He or she may undertake research to determine the most prevalent health problems when using a specific type of equipment, and then design items to reduce the chance of injury. An Ergonomist, for example, may design an office chair with improved arm and back support to enhance posture and relieve pressure on the lower back and shoulders.
Many business owners hire Ergonomists to visit their facilities and advise them on how to increase productivity and safety. A consultant in Ergonomics looks for possible dangers, such as not enough lighting, dirty equipment, and old technology. He or she may suggest adding more light to make it easier on the eyes, buying more comfortable workstations and seats, or changing the way dangerous equipment is set up. A professional will also look for methods to boost assembly line productivity by revamping equipment and organising frequent breaks for staff.
A bachelor’s degree in occupational health is normally required for becoming an Ergonomist, although many people prefer to pursue master’s degrees in Ergonomics or industrial hygiene. The majority of new employees gain job skills through observing and learning from seasoned experts. Ergonomists are not usually obliged to be licensed or certified, however obtaining optional certification can help you get work and create a solid reputation with clients.
The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors has a list of certified courses (CIEHF). Exact entrance criteria should be confirmed with course providers. Any student interested in ergonomics can join the CIEHF as a student member, no matter what degree they are working on. This is useful for networking, activities, and help. Several jobs require membership in the CIEHF and/or the British Psychological Society (BPS). The CIEHF certifies a variety of short courses that provide an overview of Ergonomics and human factors.
Must have skills:
Some of the skills that you will have to posses or acquire in order to become a Ergonomist include:
- An interest in and understanding of people’s behaviour in various situations
- Excellent interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills.
- The ability to work well collaboratively as part of a team as well as independently.
- Strong listening and observation skills.
- The ability to build, influence, and develop relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
- The ability to understand technical concepts and clearly communicate them to others.
- A practical and common-sense approach to work.
- Analytical reasoning.
- A systematic approach to studying people in their work environment and producing research.
- Project management skills.
- Organisation, planning, and time management skills.
- A creative approach to problem solving.
- Negotiation skills.
- A good level of numeracy.
Relevant experience is advantageous, and most companies prefer individuals with some industry experience. You can use your degree projects to specialise and generate prospects for vacation work. Sandwich degree programmes allow students to get a year of experience and establish a network of contacts. You may learn more about the field by speaking with professional Ergonomists. Email the CIEHF for more information about interacting with experts in the pitch and seeing if you can shadow someone for the day.
Ergonomists who have made a name for themselves in the consulting or manufacturing industries sometimes prefer to form their own businesses, where they hire workers, market their services, and keep company records.
Employees are frequently trained in occupational health and safety by freelance Ergonomists. They may advise business owners to invest in new items and give ways to purchase them, such as manufacturer names or mail-order catalogues.
Ergonomists usually move up in their careers by joining a bigger company with better benefits or by becoming managers of Ergonomics groups. Some Ergonomists start their own consulting businesses.
As their skills are used in a growing number of industries and companies try to make products that are easy for people to use, their job prospects are expected to grow faster than the average for all jobs. Ergonomists will be needed by computer firms and other organisations that employ automated technologies to create a pleasant, safe, and productive work environment.
The University of West Scotland’s one year full time programme will equip you with the executive training you need to kick-start your career in Ergonomics and provide you with a solid base for a career. This program is available at UWS’ London Campus, which is located in the heart of London’s economic district. Some other related courses that you should consider when looking for a career in Ergonomics include:
- Sports science
- Health sciences
- Human physiology
- Physiotherapy industrial or product design
- Occupational therapy
- Operations management