The value of ergonomic professionals has become almost indespensible. The Osh-act aims to ensure that no harm is done to employees whilst on duty. One aspect in this is that the physical and cognitive abilities of the employee are not exceeded, which may result in harm to the employees, equipment or processes. Ergonomics ensures that companies can comply to this requirement of the OSH-act, but how do you know if the consulting service actually achieves this aim.
Until now there has been no official certification for ergonomic consultants, and it has been up to the client to determine if the consultant has the required training and experience to perform the services required. As ergonomics is a specialised field, it has very often been the consultant who convinces the client that he or she is qualified, not based on any quantifiable standard. The fact that many non-ergonomic professionals have been able up to now to pass themselves off as ergonomists is hurting South Africa’s industries and has put the profession in a negative light.
This has now however changed, as ESSA (Ergonomics Society of South Africa) has, via the PAB (Professional Affairs Board) begun a certification program to ensure that Ergonomists are certified and registered to perform their disciplines. This has resulted in two certifications, CPE (certified professional ergonomist) and CEA (certified ergonomics associate).
A CPE covers the entire breadth and depth of ergonomics knowledge to address complex problems and advanced ergonomics technologies and methods, combined with a vast experience in South African Industries. A CPE is expected to provide leadership in professional matters, to apply and develop methodologies for analysing, designing, testing, and evaluating systems and thus may undertake the responsibility to perform ergonomics work on interfaces, work stations and work systems.
A Certified Ergonomics Associate (CEA) is an interventionist who applies a general breadth of knowledge to analysis and evaluation of currently operating work systems. The scope of practice of a CEA is limited to the use of commonly accepted tools and techniques for the analysis and enhancement of human performance in existing systems. A CEA may for example be responsible for the co-ordination of an Ergonomics Facilitation team within their own industry to create an awareness of Ergonomics, to identify problems, to implement basic solution and to recognise when to consult a CPE.
These certifications will ensure that the correct type of ergonomist is used for the ergonomics work required in a company, and that this work is done to a professional standard, which should ensure compliance with the aims of the OSH-act. The DOL (department of labour) is currently busy setting up specific guidelines regarding ergonomics which are to be expected to be published for public comments in the second half of 2016.
With this in mind, it should become immediately clear that using the services of a non-ergonomist professional to conduct an ergonomic assessment simply will not add value to your business. If your aim is to improve the efficiency in your workspace, it’s imperative to check that any ergonomist employed by your business is certified by the Ergonomics Society of South Africa (ESSA). In this way, you ensure that your business receives a high quality service where the real ergonomic issues facing your business are dealt with.