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The ergonomics profession was recently granted a Royal Charter and there are many ways ergonomists can work in collaboration with OH professionals to enhance the safety and wellbeing of working people. Stephen Barraclough and Wendy Jones explain more about what ergonomists do.
Safeguarding employees’ health has never been as challenging as it is now, taking into account the economic pressures many organisations and companies are under. Therefore, if specialist help is sought to solve a problem, it is vital to have confidence in the professionals involved.
The granting of a Royal Charter to the Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors gives recognition to the ergonomics discipline of its contribution to the safety and wellbeing of working people.
The only place in the world where you can find a chartered ergonomist and human factors specialist is among the members of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (CIEHF). The C.ErgHF status indicates that competence has been thoroughly assessed by peer professionals to international standards, and that those individuals with this status have shown that they are committed to continuing their professional development.
It is feasible to work with good professionals in many disciplines who are not chartered, but being chartered demonstrates a desire to take responsibility for, and pride in, professional achievement. Faced with a choice between similar candidates, one chartered and one not, which one would you choose?
The introduction of the term “ergonomics” to the UK is commonly attributed to Hywel Murrell who described it in the mid20th century as “the scientific study of the relationships between man and his working environment” (Murrell, 1965). Since then, the discipline has extended its scope outside of the workplace to encompass “designing for people, wherever they interact with products, systems or processes”, and the term “human factors” is often used to reflect this wider perspective.
Thus, ergonomic principles are now applied in areas ranging from sports equipment and leisure activities to the usability of computer websites, and from the safety and effectiveness of air, rail and road transport to the design of office seating. For example, when the 2000 Ford Focus was being developed, ergonomists created a suit that enabled the designers to experience driving from the perspective of older users (Loughborough University, 2010). The car s
Stephen Barraclough is chief executive of the Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors and Wendy Jones is a health researcher in construction at Loughborough University and a chartered ergonomist and SCPHN (OH).