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• Consultants

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Overview
Whether you're a small company looking for your first workplace analysis or a large company looking to implement a comprehensive ergonomics program, odds are that sooner or later you'll find yourself in need of an ergonomics consultant. As with any profession, outsourcing this training, development, or advising is often advantageous; your consultants are experts in their field, and their knowledge is both comprehensive and up-to-date. But with so many companies billing themselves as "Ergonomics Consultants", how do you know what to look for? Read on for an overview of the specialization, expertise, and certifications you may want to consider when hiring your consultant:

Specialization

Certification

Expertise

Not all ergonomists are experts when it comes to the office environment. Office Ergonomics is a specialty in the field of ergonomics, so it pays to find someone with expertise in this particular area. There are specifics of equipment placement, lighting, and noise to which traditional ergonomists may not be as closely attuned. Make sure that the consultant you hire has training and experience in the office environment; this will often include experience in workplace analysis, hazard assessment, and employee training.

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There are a number of components to a good ergonomics program that go beyond simple workplace analysis; the larger your company is, the more components you're likely to need. These include separate training for management and employees, the development of standard policies and procedures for workplace issues and injuries, and continuous feedback loops to ensure progress.

Setting up multi-tiered programs is complex, and requires that a well-designed program be properly implemented at the employee and management levels (which often require two very different training styles). If you're a large company, it may pay to ensure that your consultant has experience implementing comprehensive programs. A few questions you may want to ask your potential consultants include:

Have you dealt with our type of situation before?

Do you have a resume and list of clients I can contact?

Can you provide samples of work that might be representative of your solutions to my problem?

Do you have experience in this area that can helps us comply with legal requirements, such as OSHA, ADA, or state agencies?


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There are a number of certifications available to consultants who want to specialize or augment their current degrees. Among the most well-known are:

CPE - Offered through the Board of Certification for Professional Ergonomists (BCPE), the CPE is considered by many to be one of the most stringent certification processes. A CPE (Certified Professional Ergonomist) or CPHF (Certified Professional in Human Factors) must possess at least a master's degree in ergonomics or human factors (or a combination of related fields), 4 years of documented professional practice, and must pass a written BCPE examination. Founded in 1990, the BCPE has certified nearly 1,000 members worldwide.

http://www.bcpe.org

CIE - Offered by the Oxford Research Institute, successful Certified Industrial Ergonomist candidates must possess at least a Bachelors in Science, 3-5 years of work experience (depending on prior education), and provide evidence of specialized training or formal education in related ergonomics and/or Human Factors Engineering fields. CIEs are required to submit proof of technical contributions to the field (books, articles patents, or awards), two letters of recommendation, and pass a written test administered by the Oxford Institute. Continuing certification requires candidates to provide proof of continuing education every 24 months. Founded in 1993, the Oxford Institute has certified more than 200 CIEs.

http://www.oxfordresearch.org


While the following certifications are not specifically conferred for a proficiency in ergonomics, they are also seen amongst ergonomics consultants.

PT - While the Physical Therapist certification is not focused on ergonomics, PTs are often involved in workplace analysis and behavior training. Licensed by their state, Physical Therapists are required to pass a state-administered national exam. Beginning in 2002, PTs will be required to possess a post-baccalaureate degree from one of the more than 200 colleges and universities that offer programs in Physical Therapy.

http://www.apta.org

CSP - Offered by the BCSP, Certified Safety Professionals must posses an associate degree in safety and health (or a bachelors degree in any field), a minimum of four years of professional safety experience, and must pass two BCSP-administered exams. (Candidates having passed the first exam are given the title ASP - Associate Safety Professional). Founded in 1969, the BCSP has certified over 16,000 CSPs.

http://www.bcsp.org


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