FAQ

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics (or Human Factors) is the study of interactions between people, their work, and the tools or equipment that they use. Ergonomists apply this knowledge to optimize human well-being (health, safety, satisfaction, comfort) and overall system performance (productivity, quality). Ergonomics is often described as balancing task demands with human capabilities, or "fitting the task to the person, rather than the person to the task". Ergonomics applied to the design process (of anything!) involves a person-centred systems approach that characterizes, specifies and evaluates human, task and environmental design requirements. A well-designed job/task/workstation/tool/product works well for the person using it and is effective at accomplishing the intended goal.

What is a Certified Professional Ergonomist?

There is no law that limits who can call themselves an Ergonomist, which means that it is a “buyer beware” market. One way to ensure that you are receiving service from a qualified individual is to seek a Certified Professional Ergonomist. Individuals who have relevant university education, several years of professional experience, and demonstrated competence in the practice of Ergonomics can apply for professional certification through the Canadian College for Certification of Professional Ergonomists (CCCPE; www.cccpe.ca) or the US equivalent, the Board of Certification for Professional Ergonomists (BCPE; www.bcpe.org). Certified professionals will have the designation Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist (CCPE), or in the US: Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE), or Certified Human Factors Professional (CHFP). Both CCCPE and BCPE also have designations for individuals who have met educational requirements, but are still working towards the completion of professional experience. These designations are AE in Canada, and CEA or AEP in the US. Certified professionals have agreed to operate within the scope of a Code of Practice for their respective certifying body, and there is a complaints process to report individuals who appear to have breached this Code of Practice.

There are several organizations that offer short courses of 1-5 day duration on Ergonomics, and who offer designations such as "Certified Ergonomics Specialist" or "Ergonomics Certification" upon completion. These certifications simply indicate completion of one training course and do not represent professional certification by CCCPE or BCPE. Certification of course completion and professional certification are not the same thing.

There are qualified Ergonomists who are not certified by CCCPE or BCPE. In determining whether an individual is qualified to provide the service that you require, it is prudent to request information regarding formal education, years of experience, and credible references from past clients. Certified Professional Ergonomists (CCPE, CPE, CHFP) have demonstrated these qualifications to the satisfaction of a Board of their peers.

Are there Ergonomics Regulations?

The British Columbia Occupational Health and Safety Regulations have a section entitled “Ergonomics (MSI) Requirements” (BC OHS Regulations; parts 4.46 – 4.53). These are available online at www.worksafebc.com. This regulation focuses on a risk management process for the prevention of musculoskeletal injury (MSI) or soft tissue injury that is caused or aggravated by work.

There are similar regulations (not entitled “Ergonomics”) that fall under the general duty clause of other provincial, federal and state legislation that is intended to protect workers from injury. These generally require that hazards are identified, assessed and controlled; that workers are consulted in the risk management process; and that people who are exposed to risk of injury are educated regarding the hazards and the control strategies. Robinson Ergonomics can help guide your organization towards compliance with relevant regulations, and beyond compliance to best practices.

There is no Canadian legislation that requires Ergonomics to be a part of the design of equipment, tools, facilities, or anything else; however, there are some non-regulatory incentives to involve Ergonomics in specific design processes. For example, Human Factors considerations in architectural and interior design can be considered towards LEED accreditation (sustainable design). There is plenty of evidence that good ergonomics makes good business sense.

Are there Ergonomics Standards?

Yes. There are a variety of national and international standards in Ergonomics and related areas. International Standards are available through the International Organization for Standardization (www.iso.org), with more than 100 standards falling under the scope of Technical Committee 159 “Ergonomics” (TC159).  The Canadian Standards Association has adopted some of the ISO Ergonomics Standards (ISO 9241 series on Ergonomics Requirements for the Use of Visual Display Terminals) and has generated a few others that are available online (www.csa.ca) :  CSA Z412-00(R2005) – Guideline on Office Ergonomics; CSA Z1004 – General Workplace Ergonomics.

Dan Robinson is a Canadian representative of the Standards Council of Canada in the review and development of ISO standards on Ergonomics (TC159) and Human Response to Vibration and Mechanical Shock (TC108/SC4). 

Where can I find other Ergonomists?

If you have checked out Dan Robinson, PhD CCPE and Robinson Ergonomics Inc. and wish to find other consultants who may be able to provide a competitive quote for service, there are two online directories that can provide contact information for qualified Ergonomists in Canada.  There is the Directory of Consultants on the website of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists (www.ace-ergocanada.ca ) and a directory of Certified Professional Ergonomists (CCPE and AE) on the website of the Canadian College for Certification of Professional Ergonomists (www.cccpe.ca).  Or just ask Dan for a list of colleagues who provide similar services – he has worked with or collaborated with many of the qualified Ergonomists across Canada.

I need some help setting up my computer workstation. I don't really need a professional.

Okay.  Here is a free download with directions for configuring your workstation and a posture checklist to see how well you have done.

If you are still having difficulties getting your workstation configured, or if you have symptoms that are made worse by working, it might be a good idea to get some assistance from a professional.  Always seek assistance from a medical professional for persistent or severe symptoms, in addition to managing aggravating factors/hazards in your workplace.  Symptoms of concern may include: numbness, tingling, pain, loss of strength, swelling in the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, or feet and legs; headaches; back and neck tension or pain.  An office workstation assessment usually takes less than an hour to complete and can assist with identifying strategies to prevent or manage symptoms at work. 

How much do your services cost?

Perhaps a better question may be "How much will it cost if we don’t do this"?  Ergonomics can reduce costs associated with injury, claims management, absenteeism, presenteeism, process and procedure inefficiencies, quality losses, employee morale, and other factors.  Well-executed Ergonomics isn't expensive – it pays for itself.

The cost of service depends on exactly what you need done, the complexity of the issues, and the environment in which your work is performed.  Please contact Dan to discuss your specific objectives and possible approaches to address those needs.  You will be provided a fair and clear quote for service in a timely manner, with a fee structure that fits your preferred method of contracting (e.g., hourly, fixed rate, ceiling price, fee for service, milestone payment).

Do you have experience in my industry?

Probably.  But you already know your industry and your people are experts at what they do.  Robinson Ergonomics will work with your people, where they work, to understand the issues and to develop practical solutions that are appropriate for your industry, your workplace, and your people.  The ability to draw on experience in many industries adds value when solutions and strategies utilized with more than 250 previous clients can be transferred or adapted to fit your needs.

What do your clients say about your work? Can you provide references?

References and contact information can be provided upon request. Here is a selection of client feedback on work performed by Robinson Ergonomics:

"Thanks for all your time and expertise - you supply a remarkable service in a thoughtful, collaborative manner. Working with you has been a pleasure."
- Ingelwood Care Centre

"Your seminar was called 'informative', 'thought provoking' and 'excellent'."
- Viewpoint Medical Assessment Services Inc.

"Great work and much appreciated on short notice. This will be very helpful for us and in the end the manufacturer I'm sure. As far as the [vehicle] goes they seem to be building by the book. Your book."
- City of Richmond

"We so appreciated your flexibility, patience and commitment with this project. Your recommendations have provided us with the info to prevent staff injuries and keep the program running smoothly."
- Delta Community Living Society

"This is a great report and will be good for our corporate files in terms of our responsibility to our employees. Thanks again for a great session."
- Genome British Columbia

"Everyone was very pleased with the content of the training and felt it very helpful to go out and do the assessments."
- Rio Tinto Alcan

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