“The Alphabet Soup of Ergonomics Certifications”

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April 2015: Ergonomic, Ergonomic Certification , Psychosocial Risk Factors

"Caveat Emptor" or buyer beware fits well when employers are selecting ergonomics service providers. The phrase arises from the fact buyers often have less information about the services they are purchasing than the seller is indicating to them. Buyers of ergonomics services don't necessarily understand the science of ergonomics and what makes a good ergonomics consultant, the differences in their education, training and experiences which impacts the quality of service provided and ultimately the results the buyer or employer will achieve. These days, ergonomic credentials and certifications are like a bowl of alphabet soup!

When it comes to ergonomic service providers, employers and insurers should be aware of the many credentials ergonomic specialists are putting after their name. There are vast differences in the credentials and certifications offered in today's marketplace resulting in significant differences in skills, experience, knowledge and expertise. In addition, many perceive (office) ergonomics as something "easy" to do as a startup business, or add on service. In reality, this is a professional career path that requires substantial education and training not everyone is suited for.

To some extent, the current state of ergonomics is reflective of United States history, when Northern carpetbaggers moved to the South after the American Civil War, in order to profit from the instability and power vacuum that existed at this time. Following the 1997 Cal-OSHA ergonomics regulation and the push for better health and wellness in the workplace, sit to stand trends in the office and other legislative changes supporting individual's abilities to work in comfort, ergonomics services have become extremely popular and competitive, especially in California.

Matching the right ergonomics professional to your needs is critical when you are designing a new technical process such as an assembly line or production area, setting up an ergonomics process for your organization, or returning an injured worker with a medical condition back to work to assure a successful outcome. Employers need to be sure they engage with a certified professional ergonomics consultant who is able to perform a valid ergonomics analysis and recommend appropriate solutions for the desired results.
Knowing who your ergonomics service provider is critical. It could be a:
. Chiropractor
. Loss control agent
. Local furniture vendor
. Physical or Occupational therapist
. Occupational health nurse
. Administrative Assistant
. Facilities manager
. Safety manager
. Office supply store representative
. Ergonomic product salesman

With so many people "dabbling" in ergonomics, it's time to clear up all the confusion. Aside from earning a Master's Degree in Human Factors and Ergonomics, there is no state or national licensing body at this time to credential Ergonomists; only nationally recognized board certification organizations (non-profit) or privately held, "for profit" credentialing businesses.
Ergonomics is an applied science, so people with degrees in healthcare, engineering, psychology and other non-degreed backgrounds can be certified.

The table below is a list of ergonomics certification programs and credentials earned by professionals today.

Becoming certified is evidence of a minimum level of professional competence, but demonstrating the necessary competence has significant variability depending on the credential selected. Years of experience, education level and ergonomics work experience separate a CPE from a CEAS or COEE. While certification is important to advance the credibility of a profession, employers should be mindful of what each credential brings and match it appropriately to their ergonomic needs.

When comparing and selecting an ergonomics service provider, be sure to select the most qualified and experienced professional needed for your ergonomics project to assure the most successful outcome. Be wary of the "alphabet soup" of "ergonomics carpetbaggers".

Worksite International's ergonomics services are provided by highly trained, experienced and qualified professionals credentialed with the highest level of certification possible with an accompanying healthcare degree. We are qualified to support employers through the continuum of work health care from wellness to prevention to medical workers' compensation and disability matters.

To learn more, go to the "Who We Are" page.

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